We are often asked questions about Wills, here are some of those frequently asked questions:
Should I talk with my executor about my Will? It is sensible to let your executor(s) know that you have appointed them. It lets them know where your most recent original Will is held so they know which firm of solicitors to contact. It gives your executor an opportunity to decline the appointment if they are unable or unwilling to accept, allowing you to decide on a replacement. One of the first things your executor attends to is organising your funeral, so telling them they are executor, means your executor can clarify your funeral wishes.
How often do I need to change my Will? Everyday life changes can have an impact on our testamentary affairs and documents. Any major life change should trigger a ‘check in’ with your solicitor to see whether your Will and other documents (e.g Power of Attorney, Appointment of Enduring Guardian) are still relevant and in accordance with your wishes. Major life changes can include (but are not limited to) death of appointed executor/beneficiary; marriage, separation, divorce, entering a new relationship, birth of children/grandchildren, buying property, starting employment for the first time, estrangement or a falling-out with a beneficiary, going overseas, step-children coming into your life, being diagnosed with an illness, having suffered an accident, your children becoming adults, winning the lottery, entering a business, setting up a company; the reasons for checking your documents are many and varied! We suggest that you make a routine ‘checking in’ with your solicitor at least once every two years to make sure all your testamentary affairs are in order.
Why bother to have a Will if someone who I did not want to include can contest it and get something from my estate anyway? Without a Will, your estate will be distributed according to the legal formula set in the Succession Act (NSW) 2006. The very person you want to exclude could inherit according to the formula. If you have a Will and specifically exclude a potential beneficiary, the court becomes aware of your wishes and intentions. As family provisions claims arise after someone dies, you would not be present to explain the reasons for the exclusion or reduced division. The court looks at the documentation you have provided (reasons for exclusion in a Will or in separate documentation) to make a determination as to whether it thinks your reasons are valid. It may result in the exclusion being upheld or modified.