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Generally speaking, you should review your Will every two to three years. While a correctly drafted Will has a better chance of passing the test of time, no amount of crystal ball gazing will afford failsafe protection against life’s events. It isn’t merely “why” you should review your Will. The “when” can also make all the difference to your estate planning.

  1. You can’t find your original While a Court will usually recognise a lost Will and admit a copy of it to probate, your Executor will be obliged to establish that the Copy Will is an accurate and complete copy of the original, which has failed to materialise despite extensive searches.

  2. A change in your relationship In Australia, marriage officially cancels your Will unless you have stated otherwise. Your divorce may also revoke your Will. The rules governing how your Will continues to operate following finalisation of your divorce differ in each State and Territory. A legal separation will not affect your Will. This means that if you die while your divorce is pending your Will continues to operate, including the appointment of your ex-spouse as your Executor if this is what you have stated.

  3. The birth of your first child Take action before this happy event. A new baby heralds a new lifestyle, new responsibilities and, in the early months, possibly significantly less sleep!

  4. Your beneficiaries grow up, get married or enter into de facto relationships If you have not reviewed your Will for some time its drafting may not evolve as your beneficiaries become independent adults. Direct gifting and an expectation of an inheritance which may impact a marital property settlement can be avoided by establishing a testamentary trust.  (For some, a prenuptial agreement may be preferable.)

  5. You buy property in another State or country or relocate to another country Wills dealing with properties in more than one jurisdiction often result in additional costs and delays. Consider a Will for each separate country. Take note of different taxation provisions operating in different States and Territories.

  6. Your beneficiary relocates to another country Seek advice concerning the relevant tax implications when gifting to a beneficiary who is a foreign resident.

  7. Your beneficiary develops creditor or substance abuse problems Direct gifting can be problematic under these circumstances. Again, a testamentary trust will in most cases afford protection.

  8. Your Executors or beneficiaries die Even if your Will includes contingency plans for the appointment of your Executor(s) and substitution clauses, you may wish to re-evaluate your decisions.

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