With around 50% of adults lacking a Will or other forms of estate planning those of us that have our estate planning in order should be congratulated.

But it's not a set and forget legal document. Wills are prepared to take account of your current life situation. And while our estate planning lawyers do everything they can to ensure they achieve your wishes for many years to come the reality is that they can be impacted by a variety of changes in your life so that they no longer achieve what you want. A badly out of date Will can cause as many, or more, problems for your family as no Will at all.

So when should you update your Will? What events in your life are key triggers to revisit your estate planning documents?

Minimum review period

We recommend you keep your Will and other estate planning documents in a safe and easy to access location so that you can review them regularly. Most likely we will be storing your original copies and you will have a copy.

As a minimum, we recommend that you review your estate planning documents at least every three years but more regularly if your circumstances change.

What circumstances should prompt a Will review?

Provided below are several lists of circumstances that we believe are likely to require a review of your Will. If you answer YES to any of these questions after your last Will was prepared you should contact us for a review.

A change in relationships:

  • Have you entered into a de facto relationship, gotten married or entered into a civil partnership?
  • Have you separated or gotten divorced?
  • Have you had a child or welcomed a grandchild? Have children come into your care?
  • Have any of your Children become adults?.
  • Has your relationship with any of the beneficiaries in your Will changed?
  • Has your relationship with any of the people you have appointed as executor, trustee, attorney or guardian changed or broken down?
  • Has any of the people you have included in your Will or other Estate Planning documents relocated overseas, lost capacity or passed away?

Changes in your circumstances:

  • Have your financial circumstances changed for example have you purchased or inherited a asset?
  • Have you moved states or moved overseas, either temporarily or permanently?
  • Have you sold or already gifted your home or other assets which you have gifted in your Will?
  • Have you retired or are you moving into a retirement village?
  • Have you started a new business, company or partnership ?
  • Have you created a trust or recently become involved in a trust?
  • Have you obtained or cancelled superannuation or life insurance?

Other circumstances:

  • Do you wish to change or remove any of the people included in your Will or add any additional people?
  • Do you wish to change any of the gifts made in your Will?
  • Do you wish to change the people you have appointed within your Enduring Power of Attorney?

If you have answered yes to any of the questions above, it is time to review your Will and other estate planning documents and update them to reflect your current circumstances and wishes. In some cases there may be no change required or a simple change will address your changed circumstances. Only occasionally will a completely new Will be required and we will discuss this with you when reviewing your situation.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.