OPINION: New Year, new Will

OPINION: New Year, new Will

Solicitor Krysten Russo-Battagliolo, HHG Legal

With the commencement of a new year, now is the ideal time to consider making a Will or review your existing Will.

Many people neglect to review their Wills regularly, which can sometimes have undesirable results on their family when they die.

Circumstances change over time and it’s important to recognise that these changes may have an impact on your overall estate planning and current Will.

  1. Family dynamics change over time. Many Australians are unaware that their Will becomes invalid when they marry. Divorce will automatically render your Will invalid. So, with the trend of hosting divorce parties, it is essential that before you start preparing your party, you update your Will.
  2. Blended families are becoming common in recent years, so it’s important that your Will is properly prepared to protect the interests of all the parties to the relationship and any children each party may have from a previous relationship.
  3. Significant changes to the value or structure of your assets and liabilities such as acquiring or disposing of significant assets warrant a review of your estate planning. Your Will may no longer reflect your current financial situation.
  4. It is becoming more common for people to relocate to different states or overseas at some stage in their lives. Different jurisdictions have different laws in relation to deceased estates and it is important that you understand how the jurisdiction of the state or country that you reside in may affect your estate.
  5. Taxation and superannuation laws are consistently evolving. Reviewing your Will and estate planning regularly will ensure that you minimise the tax consequences on your estate and beneficiaries upon your death.

Bring the following information to a meeting with your lawyer:

  • An up to date family tree including full names and addresses, their relationship to you and their ages;
  • Who you would like to appoint as Executor or Executors;
  • Who you would like to appoint guardian of children under the age of 18;
  • Names and addresses of the people or charitable organisations that you wish to benefit from your estate;
  • A list of assets such as your home, bank accounts, shares (public or private), vehicles and liabilities such as your mortgage, personal loans and any other debts you may have;
  • Details of any business interests, private companies and family trusts;
  • Superannuation fund and insurance policies details and any current nominated beneficiaries.