One of the best new year’s resolutions you can make (at any time during the year) is making sure you have a current will, whether preparing one for the first time or updating an existing will.
With the new year underway, now is the perfect time to take stock of last year, as the year that’s been, look towards the year ahead, and even the years beyond that. These last couple of years have really highlighted the importance of preparing as much as we can for any foreseeable events that threaten to create issues in the future.
Whether you don’t have a Will yet, or your current Will is rapidly becoming outdated, there has never been a better time to ensure that you and your loved ones are prepared.
Why is a Will important?
It’s common, particularly among younger people, to question the importance of a Will, or even whether they need for a Will at all. We have covered this very question in our previous article, but in addition to such considerations one key feature of a Will is choosing your Executor. An Executor is the person or people who will act as your legal representative and make the necessary arrangements after you have passed, not only to deal with any assets you may have, but also to attend to the various tasks that arise such as funeral arrangements.
By making a Will and appointing an Executor to handle your affairs after your passing, you create peace of mind for yourself and minimise the issues or estates disputes that your family will face at a time that is difficult enough without the uncertainty that arises in the absence of a Will.
Additionally, by choosing someone you can trust and rely on to carry out your wishes you can minimise potential disputes that may lead to estate litigation and all kinds of intrafamily issues.
When should I make a new Will?
Once you’ve made a Will this is the first step to ensure you’re appropriately prepared, but it’s also important to make sure your Will matches your circumstances. Generally, Wills are drafted to be flexible enough to allow for changes to your life, but big changes particularly, may require you to formally update your Will.
We recommend you review your Will every five years, and especially in the following circumstances:
- You change your name or anyone in your Will changes name;
- An Executor dies or is no longer suitable to act due to ill health, age or any other reason;
- A beneficiary dies;
- Any specific property you’ve gifted to a specific beneficiary is sold or changes in nature;
- Your family situation, or the family situation of any beneficiary changes; for example, marriage, divorce, entering into or ending de facto relationships, serious matrimonial problems, or the birth of children;
- You become involved in a new business, company or trust; or
- You take up permanent residence interstate or overseas.
Perhaps the most important events that affect your Will and will almost always require you to make a new Will are marriage and divorce. Under the relevant legislation your Will is generally immediately revoked upon your marriage, and a divorce will generally revoke sections of your Will, if not the Will in its entirety. As a result, it’s particularly important to review your Will as soon as possible whenever these events occur.
What else can I do to prepare?
A Will ensures your affairs can be handled upon your passing, but there are also circumstances during life where you may find yourself unable to handle your own affairs. Much as a Will appoints a legal representative upon your death, an Enduring Power of Attorney and Appointment of Medical Treatment Decision Maker appoints a legal representative in circumstances where you are incapacitated during your life.
In the case of an Enduring Power of Attorney, you can appoint a person or people to carry out specific tasks or types of tasks on your behalf, or to generally handle your affairs while you are unable to do so. This is a very useful document to have in place whether you’re a “regular” person, or you have more complicated circumstances.
In the case of an Appointment of Medical Treatment Decision Maker, as you can probably guess from the name, this document allows you to appoint a person or people specifically to make decisions in respect of your medical treatment in the event you are unable to do so.
These documents are equally as important as a Will, or arguably more important for you personally becaushttps://www.burkelawyers.com.au/insights/powers-of-attorney-for-companies-trusts-and-smsf/e life doesn’t stop even if you are unable to handle your own affairs. Having these documents in place ensures a trusted person or people can keep your personal affairs and estate running smoothly with your wishes in mind.
If you have any concerns about your current arrangements, Burke & Associates Lawyers can assist you with any concerns or issues you may have, to ensure that your estate planning needs are met. We know that every situation is different and there is no “one size fits all” solution to estate planning. We work hard to give you peace of mind to know that, following your passing, your loved ones will be able to deal with things without any undue stress.
For any additional information or questions, you may have please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Wills & Estates Division. You can contact our legal team via our switchboard on +61 3 9822 8588 or via email direct to our Wills & Estates lawyers Rohani Bixler, Luke Palmer or our support team. We look forward to helping you with any requirements you may have.