When you should revisit your Will

If any of the below happens, make sure you revisit your Will!

  • If you marry, your marriage revokes your Will unless the Will is expressed to be made in contemplation of that marriage. Consult a solicitor about your Will if you decide to marry.
  • Entering a domestic partnership or personal relationship can affect your Will. Consult a solicitor.
  • Divorce is likely to affect your Will. The matter is complex and the law is not uniform throughout Australia. Proposals for change are being considered in some states.
  • If you are contemplating divorce, or have been divorced since making your Will, consult a solicitor.
  • Ending a domestic partnership or personal relationship can affect your Will and your legal obligations. Consult a solicitor.
  • Review the copy of your Will every two or three years or whenever a major event occurs in your family, your assets or the taxation laws (to make sure the Will is still what you want). In particular, consult a solicitor:
  1. if you change your name, or anybody named in the Will changes theirs;
  2. if an executor dies or becomes unwilling to act as executor or becomes unsuitable due to age, ill health or for any other reason;
  3.  if a beneficiary (someone who has been left something in the Will) dies;
  4. if you have specifically left any property which you subsequently sell or give away, or put in trust or into a partnership, or which changes its character or name. This applies particularly to specifically bequeathed shares in a company which restructures its share capital;
  5. if you marry or divorce;
  6.  if you enter or end a domestic partnership or personal relationship;
  7.  if you have matrimonial difficulties; or
  8.  if a child of yours is born or dies, a child is adopted or fostered, an adopted or fostered child dies or a fostering terminates.

If you wish to change your Will or revoke it or make a new Will without informing your husband or wife or partner, you may do so, but you should consult a solicitor. Each of you is free at any time to revoke your Will and make a new Will in completely different terms without consulting or informing the other (unless you have signed a mutual Wills contract).

In very unusual cases a person may enter a legally binding contract to make a Will in particular terms, or not to change or revoke her or his Will. If you are bound by contract in this way you will certainly know about it: you will have entered the contract intentionally and the fact that you did so will have been brought home to you in strong and clear terms.

Do not add to or delete from the Will after execution. Consult a solicitor if you want to change or revoke your Will because even the simplest changes must be correctly done or they may have disastrous results.

If you later wish to make a list, letter or other document which relates to your affairs after your death, you should consult a solicitor. The danger is that it may not be clear whether the document is intended to be testamentary in nature (that is, a Will or codicil), and litigation about the status of the document may result.