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Getting, changing or updating your Will

changing or updating your willCircumstances can change. We can’t assume the present needs of our children will be their future needs, you may not own the same assets in one year that you own in another, you might remarry, separate, divorce or anything.

There are lots of reasons for changing or updating your will e.g:

  • you start a new business
  • you get remarried or start a de facto relationship
  • you get divorced
  • you separate from your wife/partner
  • your children grow up
  • your assets increase substantially
  • you join or leave a superannuation scheme
  • you dispose of assets mentioned in the will
  • a beneficiary or executor dies, etc.

And, although it sounds like a drag, you should check your will at least every three years.  Lock it in with the annual dentist appointment that many of us never get to 🙂

How can I change my will? (special offer below)

There are two ways to change your will:

  1. Make a codicil to your current will.  A codicil is a legal addition to the will.  There are special rules about codicils, so it’s a good idea to get a solicitor to do this.  A codicil must be signed and witnessed in the same way that the will is.  The solicitor will sometime tell you that it is better to make a whole new will, especially if there are major changes.
  2. If you make a new will. This automatically cancels any earlier wills.

Your will is cancelled if:

  1. You marry or remarry.  The only exceptions to this are if you make your will in contemplation of the marriage.  There are different rules about this, depending on whether the will was made before or after November 1989 (when the law changed), but the best advice is to always state explicitly that the will is in contemplation of marriage – this sort of will should always be handled by a lawyer.
  2. You destroy the original with the intention of revoking it.  If the will is destroyed by accident you will need a new will.
  3. You include a “revocation clause” in a later will, i.e. you write in the later will that the earlier will is to be cancelled.
  4. You make a valid new will. This automatically cancels an old will when the terms of the later will contradict the previous one.

What about if I get divorce?

Divorce does not automatically cancel a will.  If you want to change your will when you divorce, you will have to make a new will. Nevertheless, divorce revokes any gift that is made to a former spouse and the appointment of the spouse as executor, trustee or guardian.

These gifts and directions will not fail if the court is satisfied the will-maker intended them to stand despite the divorce.  It is always best to make a new will after a divorce to avoid any doubt about your real intentions.

**A special offer to get your Will finalised**

Ben Hall from Hall Solicitors has offered a special deal to all Dads Online friends. Your Will can be drafted for $165 (normal commercial rates are $500) by just sending Ben a email and mention this post:

Ben says:  During the ridiculous levels of stress that always come with separation, it’s easy to forget your will (if you have one – which you should).  Divorce changes your legal situation, as does getting together with someone new, so make sure you review this situation from time to time.

He also says, another issue you should think about is whether or not having an Enduring Power of Attorney would be helpful. This is a powerful document that lets somebody you trust implicitly manage your legal, financial, personal and health affairs on your behalf, if you are unable to do so. This is particularly relevant for elderly Australians however everybody should have an EPOA in place.