The purpose of a will is to ensure your assets will be distributed according to your wishes when you die. As such, it is important to review your will regularly (every two or three years) or whenever there is a significant change to your circumstances.

Common triggers for reviewing your will:

  • Marriage – Marriage revokes a will. Therefore, if you intend to marry, or have recently married, you should review your will. Wills can be prepared in contemplation of marriage to avoid being revoked after marriage.
  • Separation or divorce – Following separation or divorce, references in your will to your former spouse (as beneficiary, executor, trustee and guardian) will be omitted. If you wish to keep your former spouse in your will (in any capacity), you need to review your will.
  • De facto relationship – A de facto spouse is eligible to claim on their deceased spouse’s estate. However, evidence is required to validate that a de facto relationship existed.
  • Birth of children or grandchildren – If you have children under 18 years of age, you may consider appointing a guardian (or guardians) to take care of your children. A guardian has the responsibility for the long term welfare of a child and possesses the rights and duties usually held by the child’s natural parents. If there is a dispute, a Court will take guardianship appointments into account, but has the right to override such appointments in favour of the child’s best interests.
  • Illness/Death of Executor – In the event that the named executor suffers incapacity or death, you will need to name a substitute executor.
  • Illness/Death of Beneficiaries – In the event that a named beneficiary suffers incapacity or death, you will need to name a substitute beneficiary.
  • Death of spouse – a spouse named as a beneficiary in a will may die before the person who drafted the will (the testator). In this instance, provision is required for someone else to take that beneficiary’s share.
    Diminishing value of legacies – significant sums of money left to beneficiaries in your last Will may not hold the same value in the current financial market. It is advised to review these figures every few years to ensure beneficiaries receive the financial windfall intended.
  • Retirement – People often restructure their affairs when entering retirement. This may include setting up tax effective arrangements through their Will.
  • Buying or Selling Significant Assets – If you buy or sell a house or business, this may have implications on your will. It is important that your seek advice in relation to how the purchase or sale of a significant asset may affect your will and estate plan.

How Often Should a will Be Revised