When is it time to update your Will?

Introduction

Writing or updating your Will shouldn't be an afterthought, even if it's not on the top of your to-do list. In fact, there are several situations in which you should write or update a Will as soon as possible.

As noted by the Queensland Law Practice in their Medium article, not maintaining your Will when you circumstances have changes in one of the mistakes of Will and Estate Planning. Here are some situations for you to consider.

When you get married

When you get married, it’s important to make sure your Will reflects your new family. If you want to leave all or part of your estate to your spouse, this is the time to do that. Your spouse may also be named as an executor of the Will (which means he or she will be responsible for carrying out the instructions in it).

If you don't want anything left to a former spouse and/or children from previous marriages, or if they have already been disinherited in a prior version of your Will, consider amending those arrangements now.

Alternatively, you might decide that what was once an uncomplicated list of beneficiaries needs updating because there has been a change in circumstances such as remarriage or divorce since last drafting it. In this instance, it might not just be one person who should get more than their original allocation — it could affect everyone listed!

After a divorce or separation

If you are going through a divorce or separation, it is recommended that you update your Will. This is because the process of separating can create uncertainty around how your assets will be distributed and this can lead to confusion in the event of death.

If you have minor children, it is important to know that they will always receive their inheritance regardless of who they live with after your death. This means that if there is any property or money left when you die, it will go straight into their inheritance fund even if they are living with one parent rather than both parents at the time of death.

This means that if someone has been granted full custody by the courts then their partner may not have access to an estate or any money coming from it unless there was an agreement between both parties before hand stating otherwise (which isn’t always possible).

When you have children

If you have children, your Will should be updated. If you don't have children, it should still be updated. This is because when a person passes away and has no spouse or partner to care for their children, the court will appoint someone (usually a family member) as guardian of the child's estate.

Should I appoint a guardian? As an executor of my own parent’s estate when he passed away unexpectedly at age 40, I found this process very confusing given that my relationship with my brother was strained at best and we rarely spoke. However in hindsight I realized how important it was for him to be appointed executor so that he could represent our father’s wishes in distributing his assets to family members after death rather than having them sold off by professionals who do not know us personally or understand our personal relationships with each other

When you move interstate or overseas

If you move interstate, or overseas, it's time to update your Will.

Moving interstate means that you're moving from one state of Australia to another state of Australia; if you're moving overseas it means that you're leaving the country altogether (for example, moving to New York or London).

If either of these situations applies to you, then it's vital that your Will is updated with new information so that your assets are distributed according to your wishes after your death.

If you retire or sell a business

As you get older and begin to think about retirement, you should also begin to consider updating your will. Your estate will be divided according to state law if you don't have a will in place before your death. It's important to have a written document that spells out how you want your assets distributed because it allows people who are closest to you—those who may not be heirs by law—to know where the money is coming from and how they can access it.

For example, if one of your children has special needs or requires expensive medical treatment, naming someone other who is able to act as guardian ensures that they will receive the necessary funding needed for them in order live comfortably during this time period.

If you start a new business

It’s important to make sure your estate is protected. If you don’t have a Will, your assets could be left to the state. If you do have a Will but it isn’t up to date, there may be things that should have been included in it but aren't. This can cause problems when it comes time for your estate to be handled.

Are any of these scenarios relevant to your situation? It might be time to update your Will.

Don't worry—you're not alone! If you've ever considered updating your Will, but haven't got around to it yet, here are some scenarios that might make you think twice.

  • Your family has grown and changed. Perhaps you have new children or stepchildren, grandchildren and adopted children who weren't mentioned when you first wrote your Will. Or perhaps someone in your family has passed away since the original will was written. In both cases, these changes need to be reflected in the new document.
  • You have a new partner or spouse. It's important for any person who is named as an executor (the person responsible for administering a deceased person's estate) on their late partner's estate planning documents - such as Powers of Attorney or Wills - to update those documents if they marry someone else after their death so as not to create any conflict with regard to legal authority over assets belonging solely in one spouse’s name (e.g., bank accounts).
  • You want more control over how inheritances are dispersed among beneficiaries; now may be an ideal time for an update because many people tend not revisit their Wills until they reach retirement age anyway!

Conclusion

There are plenty of other reasons you might need to update your Will. Maybe you want to change your beneficiaries, or the way your assets will be distributed? Maybe you’re managing a new business or retiring from an old one. Whatever it is, it’s important to remember that these changes don’t have to be scary—in fact, they should be exciting! Your life is constantly evolving in new and interesting ways so why not make sure your Will reflects this? The process can be simple with the right support system behind you.

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