January 18, 2022

Your Will: Why and When you need to change it

Your Will

So, you’ve made your Will. It’s been put in a drawer or your lawyer has safely stored it away and now you can get on with life. While it might be current now, your circumstances will undoubtedly change – marriage, divorce, children, start a new business or change jobs… that all has repercussions on your Will.

Everyone, particularly high earning mining and resources professionals with financial complexity, should have a valid Will. Your Will and your Estate Plan (which is separate to, but aligned with it) needs to be updated reasonably regularly. This is to capture any changes so you can ensure those you love are considered, and those you don’t, are not.  In this article I reveal why and when you need to change your Will.

There are personal wishes you will want to observe, but at the end of the day, your Will and Estate Plan are tools that allows your beneficiaries to manage your wealth and assets once you’ve gone.

Wills can be complicated especially for mining and resources people who often live and work overseas and over a lifetime can accumulate significant wealth and assets.

However, despite the number of pages it takes to write your Will, for most married couples your Will will usually be as straight forward as everything goes from one to the other, then if you’ve both passed away, to your children and in turn, their children.

The considerable legal detail that follows, outlines matters such as testamentary trusts and super proceed trusts which provide important options and flexibility for your beneficiaries so they may hold and protect their inheritance to take best advantage of it.

Given your Will and Estate Plan is directly linked to your wealth, it stands to reason these important matters be considered in collaboration with your financial adviser, and due to the tax complexity that usually impacts remunerations packages and ESS common to the mining and resources sectors, a specialist tax accountant.

Here are some of the common personal circumstances that would usually require your Will to be changed:

You marry or enter into a defacto relationship
You separate or get divorced
You remarry or enter into a defacto relationship
You have children or step-children
Your children have children or step children
One of your beneficiary’s circumstances change
You no longer want to leave anything to a particular beneficiary
You or your spouse retire
Your spouse passes away; or
Your parents or your spouse’s parents pass away.

Some financial circumstances that may lead to you having to consider changing your Will include:

Your assets change
You start your own business
You become a director or shareholder of your own company
You create a Family Trust
You create a self-managed superannuation fund
You or your spouse buy property
You or your spouse buy property overseas; or
You, your spouse or one of your beneficiaries goes bankrupt.

As you can see by the rather substantial lists I’ve provided, regularly reviewing your Will and Estate Plan cannot be overstated.

If your Will is outdated and does not take into account your changed circumstances, or worse, if you have no Will at all, then the personal and financial implications to your family could be devastating.

At the very least, your loved ones (in their state of grief) could end up spending a lot of time and money with accountants and lawyers, and possibly locked in legal battles with each other.

Next steps
Check the date on your Will.  If it’s more than 2 years old it needs to be reviewed by a lawyer who will check it’s currency and make recommendations, if required, for it to be updated.

Use the lists I’ve provided in this article as a guide, and in particular, if you have married or divorced, you need to take steps urgently to update any existing Will.

Contact your lawyer and financial adviser for advice.

Resources Unearthed is a solutions hub that provides integrated financial, legal, property, accounting and business advisory services for executives, professionals and business owners in the mining and resources sectors.

 The information in this article is intended only to provide a general overview and has not been prepared with a view to any particular situation or set of circumstances. It is not intended to be comprehensive nor does it constitute legal advice. While we attempt to ensure the information is current and accurate, we do not guarantee its currency and accuracy. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the information in this blog as it may not be appropriate for your individual circumstances.

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