Life is continually changing, and when it does, you should review your Estate Plan to ensure it is still relevant. This article summarises some of life’s key changes that should prompt you to review your Will and Estate Plan.
Although you can change your Will as often as you’d like, Estate Planning is not an exercise that people wake up in the morning excited about. As such, ideally, your Will should be drafted with a degree of flexibility to allow it to remain valid and relevant should your circumstances change in the years after it is signed.
That being said, life moves quickly, and as a rule of thumb, you should review your Will every three years or so to ensure it is up to date and reflective of any major life events which are likely to affect the relevance of provisions of your Will. Upon reviewing your Will, there may not be any changes required, in which case you can put your Will away and get on with life with peace of mind.
The following is a list of significant life events which should prompt you to have your Will reviewed:
- The birth or death of a potential beneficiary and the death of an executor or guardian.
- The formation or breakdown of a romantic relationship – while marriage invalidates a Will entirely, and divorce invalidates a Will so far as the provisions relate to the ex-spouse, marital or domestic separation does not affect a valid Will in any way. As such, the beginning, confirmation or end of a romantic relationship should cause you to review your existing Will.
- The purchase or sale of a significant asset of your estate – if you have a specific testamentary intention for a particular asset or class of asset, then you should ensure this is reflected in your Will after the expansion or conversion of the assets forming part of your estate. Additionally, if your Estate expands or appreciates in value, it may influence your decisions regarding its distribution.
- If the needs of your beneficiaries change – the needs and circumstances of one or more of your intended beneficiaries may change such that further provision, asset protection or additional management is required.
- When you lend money to another person (especially a beneficiary) – when you lend money to an intended beneficiary during your life, you should reflect on whether you want that loan to be repaid on your death, be adjusted against that beneficiary’s entitlement under your Will or be forgiven altogether.
- When you enter into a business venture or partnership – you need to consider what is to occur to your business stake upon the death of a principal of the business. Therefore, your Estate Plan should be accompanied by a Succession Plan.
If any of the above have occurred since your Will was signed, it is important to review your Will and ensure its provisions are still relevant and reflective of your intentions. We offer complimentary reviews of your existing Wills to help you review your Will and your circumstances. To coordinate a complimentary consultation, please call or email us.