How often should you update your Will in Australia?
You should update your Will every 3 to 5 years, or after a major life event.
Major life events can include:
- If your family grows. For example, more children or grandchildren.
- If any of your appointed executors, guardians or attorneys die, or are no longer able to take on the responsibility.
- Significant changes in your financial position.
- Significant life or business changes for your beneficiaries.
Should any of the above events occur, we strongly recommend you seek legal guidance.
Otherwise, your wishes may not be fulfilled after you die.
How do I update my Will?
To update your Will in Australia, you can follow these steps:
- Review your existing Will: Review your existing Will to identify the changes you wish to make. Consider whether the changes are minor or significant and whether they affect the distribution of your assets, your beneficiaries or your appointed executor.
- Prepare a new Will or a Codicil: If the changes are minor, you can prepare a Codicil, which is a legal document that amends your existing Will. If the changes are significant, you may need to prepare a new Will. Ensure that the new Will or Codicil complies with the relevant laws and regulations in your state or territory.
- Sign the new Will or Codicil: Sign and date the new Will or Codicil in the presence of at least two witnesses who are over the age of 18 and not beneficiaries of your Will. The witnesses must sign the Will or Codicil in your presence and in the presence of each other.
- Keep the original document safe: Keep the original copy of your updated Will or Codicil in a safe and secure place, such as a safe or a locked cabinet.
- Notify your executor and beneficiaries: Notify your appointed executor and beneficiaries about the changes to your Will and provide them with a copy of the updated document.
It is advisable to seek legal advice when updating your Will to ensure that your wishes are accurately reflected, and the document complies with the relevant laws and regulations. Also, it is recommended to review your Will every few years or as your personal and financial circumstances change.
How often should you update your Power of Attorney in Australia?
You should review your Power of Attorney documents every 3 to 5 years, or when your circumstance change. Especially if they die or are no longer able to be your Power of Attorney. Otherwise, your estate planning could be significantly affected.
In addition, it is also advisable to review your Power of Attorney when any major life events occur, such as a change in marital status, birth of a child, or a significant change in your assets or income.
It is essential to ensure that your Power of Attorney remains up-to-date and reflects your current wishes and intentions, as it gives someone else the authority to make important decisions on your behalf. If you are uncertain about whether or not to update your Power of Attorney, it is advisable to consult with a legal professional for guidance.
How do I update my Power of Attorney?
To update your Power of Attorney in Australia, you need to follow these steps:
- Determine the changes you wish to make: Review your existing Power of Attorney document and identify the changes that you want to make. This could be changing your appointed attorney, updating their powers or revoking the Power of Attorney entirely.
- Prepare a new Power of Attorney document: You can either create a new Power of Attorney document that incorporates the changes or prepare an amendment to the existing document. Ensure that the document is legally valid and complies with the relevant legislation in your state or territory.
- Sign the new document: Sign and date the new Power of Attorney document in the presence of at least two witnesses who are over the age of 18 and not your appointed attorney.
- Notify your appointed attorney: Notify your appointed attorney about the changes and provide them with a copy of the updated Power of Attorney document.
- Keep the original document safe: Keep the original copy of the updated Power of Attorney document in a safe and secure place, such as a safe or a locked cabinet.
It is advisable to seek legal advice when updating your Power of Attorney to ensure that your wishes are accurately reflected, and the document complies with the relevant laws and regulations.
What are the legal requirements for a valid Will or Codicil in Australia?
To create a valid Will or Codicil in Australia, there are certain legal requirements that must be met. These requirements vary depending on the state or territory, but generally, a valid Will or Codicil must:
- Be in writing: The Will or Codicil must be in writing to be legally valid.
- Be signed by the testator: The Will or Codicil must be signed by the testator (the person making the Will or Codicil) or by someone else in the testator’s presence and at the testator’s direction.
- Be witnessed: The Will or Codicil must be witnessed by at least two people who are over the age of 18, not beneficiaries of the Will or Codicil, and who sign the Will or Codicil in the presence of the testator and each other.
- Reflect the testator’s intentions: The Will or Codicil must accurately reflect the testator’s intentions and clearly outline how they want their assets to be distributed after their death.
- Be made voluntarily: The Will or Codicil must be made voluntarily and without undue influence or pressure from another person.
- Be mentally competent: The testator must be mentally competent and of sound mind when making the Will or Codicil.
It is important to note that failure to meet any of these legal requirements may result in the Will or Codicil being deemed invalid, and the testator’s assets may be distributed according to the laws of intestacy. Therefore, it is recommended to seek legal advice when preparing a Will or Codicil to ensure that it is legally valid and reflects your intentions.
Why you should review your beneficiaries too
On top of ensuring your own estate planning documents are up to date, it is critical to ensure your family’s and beneficiaries’ documents are valid and updated. While some may suggest it is not their business to become involved in their family members’ testamentary affairs, gifting inheritance to beneficiaries who have outdated testamentary documents can ultimately result in the mismanagement of your estate.
For example, Mary has two sons, Peter and George. Peter is happily married, and has a close relationship with Mary, whereas George has a strained relationship, and is indebted to the family. In Mary’s Will, she left her entire estate to Peter, disowning George due to their poor relationship and unpaid loans.
Shortly after Mary’s death, Peter and his wife die unexpectedly, without ever updating their Will and testamentary affairs. Dying intestate, George becomes entitled to Peter’s estate, and consequently inherits Mary’s estate, contrary to her wishes.
To safeguard your intentions concerning your estate’s management after your death, it is essential to ensure that not only are your estate planning documents up to date, but also those of your beneficiaries. This will reduce the likelihood of unexpected situations undermining your testamentary wishes.
Get in touch
Here at Northern Beaches Lawyers, we have over 25 years of experience in safeguarding and implementing the testamentary wishes of our clients. Contact us today to review and update your estate planning documents, so you can rest easy knowing your estate will be properly managed after your passing.