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Thinking ahead – the importance of making a Will

Jayne Nevins - DAS Law

  1. 23 August 2013
  2. Wills and Probate
  3. 0 comments
Family Will

It is important to make a Will to determine what happens to your estate after your death. It is equally important to ensure that the Will is properly drafted and complies with the legal formalities required.

Although you can buy DIY Wills, you can’t buy the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you have drafted your Will correctly. I would always recommend a professional drafting service or using a solicitor to draft your Will. Although this will cost more than using a DIY package, it could save a great deal of money for the estate after your death and prevent challenges to the validity of the Will.

However, making a Will isn’t necessarily the end of the matter. People often do not realise how crucial it is to ensure that their Will is kept updated. I recently advised a son whose mother had died after remarrying shortly before her death. Although her wishes under the Will were that her two sons should inherit a substantial amount of money, the new marriage rendered that Will invalid. The new husband refused to comply with his wife’s wishes and the sons received nothing. In my experience, this is an all-too-common scenario.

You should update or renew your Will if the following situations arise:

  • Marriage – marriage renders any previous Wills invalid
  • Divorce – does not revoke an existing Will – however, your ex-partner will not receive anything specified in the Will
  • Death – if a beneficiary dies, a Will must be amended to state who should now receive his or her share
  • Birth – a Will must be updated every time a child is born, or they will not necessarily be entitled to receive anything, even if their siblings have already been named. A guardian can also be appointed to be responsible for a child’s care should they be orphaned
  • Change of address – there must be an up-to-date address on a Will, or it could be deemed invalid
  • Change of executor – if an executor dies or you no longer wish them to be an executor, their name must be removed
  • Change in finances – if, for example, someone suddenly inherits money (or wins the Lottery!), you may wish to change your Will

You must remember to renew your Will on a regular basis. This is not difficult to do and it does not mean that you have to write a new Will with every change in circumstances. Usually all that is needed is a codicil, which is something that can be added to an existing Will.

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