If you have recently made a Will or are planning on doing so in the future, you might be wondering when it is best to update any information you have included on it. Whilst this decision is entirely your choice for much of the time, there are several instances where changing aspects of your document are essential. In this article, we will explain how often you should update your will and suggest when this might be appropriate based on your current circumstances.

What Is A Will?

A Will is a legal document that outlines your wishes for when you pass away. It includes details of the people you would like to receive your assets, personal belongings and heirloom items, who you would like to be the legal guardian of any children under 18 years old, and any cultural or religious beliefs you would like to have upheld at your funeral.

In Australia, no person is discouraged or prevented from making a will, and no group or category of person is excluded from receiving an inheritance. Anyone is free to make one and give assets as they choose.

When Should It Be Updated?

You might already have written a Will. There are circumstances when you will need to update it, including:

Following the death of any Beneficiaries or Executors.

An Executor is legally responsible for carrying out what you have stated in your Will. They will be ‘employed’ by you – the testator – to represent your wishes once you are no longer there to voice them.

A Beneficiary is someone who you have stated in your Will to receive one or more of your assets. These could be friends, children, siblings, parents, or any other distant relatives who will be given these by your Executor.

Whilst it might be evident, if one of these individuals passes away after the document has been written, you will need to review it. You’ll want to change the previous Executor’s name to that of your new Executor, and the beneficiary to a different friend or family member.

When you have married, divorced, begun or ended a de-facto relationship, or had children.

When you these significant events occur reviewing your Will is necessary. For example: marriage will generally revoke a Will made prior to marriage, and divorce will revoke some provisions in a Will made during marriage. If your current Will gives assets to someone who is now your ex-partner, you will need to consider appointment of a new Executor and Beneficiary.

In addition, if you have separated and not yet divorced or finished your property settlement, you might want to sever any joint tenancies which exist. We can search the ownership of your real estate and advise you about this as well.

If you have recently remarried, you might have children or step-grandchildren who you would like to include too, who will not have been written into your will when you first made it. We can help you and your new spouse consider how best to provide for the blended families.

Five-Year Rule

There are other times, such as acquiring new assets or properties, or selling assets when a review is needed, but the common rule is to look over your Will every five years and change what is necessary. We can help to advise you on this at Ferguson Legal Solicitors. Give our friendly team a call today.