Spring cleaning your estate plan

Wills, Estates & Succession Planning 20 August 2018

With the change of seasons comes a drive to clean up the house, as the returning sunshine bathes light on our homes.  Spring is also a great time to re-organise your possessions, your daily routine and review where you are in life. It is also a good time to dust off your current Will and see if it remains suitable for your circumstances.

Estate Planning should not be daunting and with frequent review, your Will can easily be amended and updated to reflect your ever-changing personal circumstances.

What to consider

Are you recently engaged, married or divorced? These are all major transitional life events and your Will should reflect your current domestic relationships. Marriage has the effect of nullifying a Will and therefore gives rise to the immediate need to update your Will. Your Will should identify your spouse, so as to avoid any unnecessary conflict following your death.

Have you welcomed a new child into the family? Some Wills are drafted in a way to include ‘all future children’ of a relationship, whereas others specifically name a child as a beneficiary. If you have the latter clause in your Will and have had a new addition to your family, your Will should be updated. Further, perhaps your Will does not include provision for the appointment of guardians?

Do you have any overseas trips planned for the future? It is important to revise your Will prior to extensive travel to ensure your Estate can be distributed to the furthest practical extent, particularly if you are travelling with people who are named in your current Will. If you were all to pass away whilst overseas, it is imperative to have a ‘back up plan’ for where your Estate will pass, if none of your named beneficiaries survive you.

Sometimes your personal assets appreciate or depreciate substantially. If you have any significant assets that you wish to distribute in a certain proportion to your beneficiaries, it is important to properly consider their market value, so you can direct them accordingly. A house you once owned that is specifically referred to in your Will might have been sold or you may have given a priceless family heirloom to another family member.  If your Will is not updated to reflect these changes, a beneficiary may miss out.

Your Will appoints a person or persons to administer your Estate.  They are known as your Executors. Over time, you may have lost touch with the person presently named in your Will as Executor, or may wish to change the appointment from a parent to a new spouse. Alternatively, the person previously named as Executor may have passed away, or moved overseas. These are all very good reasons to update your Will, so that should you pass away, someone you trust can properly administer your Estate in accordance with the terms of your Will.

What now?

Have any of the above life events occurred since you last updated your Will?  Or, do you not have a Will in place at all? Has it been more than five years since you last updated your Will?

Set yourself the task this Spring of making an appointment with a member of our Wills, Estates & Succession Planning team to review your Will, Enduring Powers of Attorney and superannuation nominations to ensure you have a tailored and optimised Estate Plan, to take care of your family should the worst occur.  This allows you to leave a legacy, rather than a mess, and shall give you peace of mind to enjoy the ever increasing sunshine as Spring becomes Summer.

If you require advice or further information in relation to any of the matters discussed in this article, please contact our Wills, Estates and Succession Planning team on 03 5273 5203.

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