Written by Michelle Richardson
The last thing on your mind when going through separation is changing your Will. Although this may be something on your ‘to do list’ and ‘can wait until later’, it is rather important in the scheme of things.
You may be of the belief that there is no point in updating your Will until after you are divorced. This is a common misunderstanding and it is vitally important that you have an up to date Will in place.
A Divorce Order will revoke only those provisions in your Will that relate to your former spouse. For example, if your former spouse is the Executor and/or Trustee, or your former spouse was to receive a gift under your Will. All other provisions will remain in place.
Ending a de facto relationship has the same effect as a Divorce. However, any gift left to an ex de-facto partner is revoked unless the will-maker expressly issues a contrary intention in their Will.
You may have prepared a Will with your former spouse each leaving your estate to the other. On your death, your former spouse will receive the benefit of those provisions even though you have separated. Your former spouse is entitled to make a claim on your estate up until a Divorce Order has been issued by the Court.
If you do not want a Will or do not have a Will, the result may be worse. If you do not have a Will in place and you are separated (but not divorced) at the time of your death, under the rules of intestacy, your former spouse is entitled to a large portion of your estate as a priority over any children you may want to leave your estate to.
It is vitally important that on a life changing event such as a relationship breakdown, you seriously consider updating your Will to ensure that your wishes are recorded.
If you would like to update your current Will, please contact us.