Reviewing a Will sounds like an obvious and simple task and we regularly ask our clients if they have recently reviewed their Will. Even though you wrote your Will a while back surely it is still ok? Well, maybe not. Can you be sure that it still follows your wishes? Did you or the solicitor you used make an error?
It’s surprising how few people do review their Will – or, indeed, really know how to go about it.
Having reviewed countless Wills over the years, below are the top eight areas to look closely at when reviewing a Will…
1. Is everything shared equally?
Most people want their children to share the estate equally upon the death of both parents.
But we have seen many Wills where the solicitor makes a potentially expensive mistake in writing down this instruction.
Does your Will correctly say share equally or does it say to share equally as tenants in common?
If your Will includes the phrase “tenants in common”, you may need to review it ASAP and remove these words. These few words can lead to unnecessary expenses, unnecessary tax, and arguments between the beneficiaries. So please, if you are unsure get it checked!
2. Are your executors still the best option?
Check whether the executors you nominated are too old, still alive, and still the best option? Do you have back-up executors?
3. Is the Will actionable?
Has the Will been dated? Are all pages signed? Was the same pen used by the Will maker and the witnesses and are the witnesses beneficiaries of the Will or related to a beneficiary? If there are any problems with the way your Will was signed, it may be deemed invalid.
4. Are the beneficiaries clearly identified?
Have you clearly stated who is to benefit from your Will? Can it be easily read and understood?
5. Have you made provisions for children under 18?
Does your Will have testamentary trust provisions to look after any minor beneficiaries?
6. Do you have assets not subject to your Will?
Some assets are not dealt with via your Will.
For example, a family home in joint names will transfer fully to the surviving owner. This will not become a part of your estate.
Also, your superannuation investments may bypass your Will. So, be careful if you’re gifting anything in your Will that may not actually be a part of your estate.
7. Do you want to amend your Will?
Although a Will can be amended with a codicil, don’t do that!
Always prepare a new Will if you want to make any changes and destroy the old Will after the new Will has been executed, to avoid confusion.
8. Is your Will consistent with your wishes?
You won’t be around when your Will is being followed, so there’s no second chance to say, “that’s not what I meant”. Make sure it clearly follows your wishes and intentions by reviewing it now.
If you would like further explanation on any of the above questions or you’d like our team to help in reviewing a Will with you, please call our office on 08 9381 9377 and make a time to come in.