Your will should never be seen as “set in stone”. It should be seen as a legal document that can be easily updated if and when necessary. Some of the things that might prompt you to consider an updating of your will include:
1. A change to your assets and liabilities
For example, the purchase or sale of real estate, typically being a significant financial event for you and your family. You may also have created more wealth or received an inheritance, meaning your existing will may not provide any asset protection or be tax effective.
2. The birth of a child / grandchild / their coming of age Consider:
- the age at which such children should receive their inheritance (e.g. 18, 21 or 25 years etc.)
- appointing a guardian and/or trustee for any children who are under 18, when a child turns 18, you may update the terms of their gift.
3. The death of your spouse, an executor or a beneficiary
You should not have deceased people mentioned in your will.
4. Changes to your insurance and superannuation
The person or persons you nominate to receive your death benefits may affect your will. If you update your death benefit insurance and superannuation nominations, your will may not conform to your overall estate planning from a tax or fairness perspective.
5. A change in your close personal relationships
E.g. marriage, separation, divorce, entering into or leaving a de facto relationship. Marriage or divorce can make a will wholly or partially ineffective.
6. A spouse, child, dependant or other beneficiary suffers a disability or trauma
Your will can ensure that the needs of this person are adequately provided for after your death.
7. When any beneficiary marries or enters into a de facto relationship
Risk of their divorce, separation or similar issues in bankruptcy may cause a rethink as to whom your assets will ultimately benefit.
8. You make a loan to children or other family members
Directions can be made in your will as to how any outstanding loan amounts are to be dealt with upon your death (e.g. deducted from that person/s share; forgiven) often to achieve “equality” or fairness overall.
9. A breakdown in the relationship of your proposed executors
It is important that your nominated executors agree to the role and are capable of working with each other, otherwise your estate could suffer undue delay, beneficiary frustration and expense.
10. The work of a charity appeals to you
You may wish to benefit a charity or charities, either by way of an outright gift or in perpetuity.
IMPORTANT We recommend you review your estate planning at least every three years and update it when there is a significant change in your (or family) circumstances.
The Long Saad Woodbridge Wills and Estate Planning team can assist you with putting your plans into place. Importantly, estate planning is not just about having a good will. It includes the ownership, protection and distribution of assets both during your lifetime and after death. Estate planning also extends to guardianship issues (lifestyle, medical care, accommodation etc) should you lose capacity, as well as possible end of life directions so that you may die with dignity.
If you would like to discuss your estate plan please feel free to call Patrick Campion or Matthew Smith on (02) 9279 4888.