Written by Jodie Anderson-Bell
When was the last time you updated your Will, or checked the contents to see if it accurately reflects your current situation and wishes?
The validity of your will may impact your family upon your death, and the distribution of assets and your estate may be compromised.
Many Australians do not have a Will or if they do, the Will is no longer up to date or valid. They may have completed one many years prior, yet their circumstances have changed, or they may have thought about changing the beneficiaries, yet never got around to updating it.
If you had been in a relationship when you made your Will, and your partner was mentioned as a beneficiary, your Will stands until you are officially divorced. There is time to change your Will before the divorce is final. If the ex-spouse is listed as a beneficiary, even if you have been separated for a long period of time and not divorced, they remain a beneficiary. Similarly, if you have recently been married, any will made prior to your marriage is automatically revoked (unless you specifically made your Will in contemplation of your marriage). Other changes in circumstances may include the birth of children, and later in life, grandchildren.
If you have superannuation accounts or family trusts, check with a lawyer, as these are not normally included in the estate of the deceased unless specifically dealt with in your Will. Also, additional documentation may be required to determine how these assets are dealt with.
Financial or Family Dynamics Circumstances Changes
As our lives are more complex and our futures appear more uncertain, now is a good time to review your Will. We are living longer, and our circumstances are changing more regularly than any time before. We change jobs more often, our investments may be more fluid, and our family situations are more diverse and blended families are more commonplace. As our circumstances change, so must our Will be updated to reflect these changes.
To get started with making a Will, or updating it, prepare making a list of beneficiaries and what you would like them to receive. Do you have a family tree document? Another good idea is to have this ready, with full names and addresses, and other relevant contact details when you meet with an Estate Planning lawyer.
If you are planning on leaving a gift to a charity, or charities, have the legal, registered name of the organisation, and a list of the assets and/or values you wish to bequeath.
A bequest to a charity or a cause you believe in, will have an impact and make a difference. It can be your legacy, knowing the organisation can continue with the work you believe is making a difference.
When you decide to leave a gift like this, organisations can continue their research and prevention programs, and provide support for many for years to come.
A beautiful example of this many years ago, was a gentleman gifted money to the Cancer Council. His gift assisted in research into treatments for patients undergoing chemotherapy and their responses to the treatments. His gift lasted many years, and assisted millions of people worldwide.
Breast cancer research and treatments and bowel cancer screening programs are others that have benefited from donations through bequests.
This is one way you can have an impact on the future and provide hope for those coming behind you.
When Is The Best Time To Update Your Will?
So, when was the last time you checked the validity of, or updated your Will?I will be so bold to say the time is now. Do not leave things because you don’t have time. Make the time, today. Having this in place will bring you peace, knowing your affairs are in order.
Your family will thank you too, as they can ensure your wishes are carried out, just as you planned.
The time is now.
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