Keeping your will up to date to avoid inheritance disputes

Published 16 Sep 2013

If there is any argument over exactly what a testator had in mind when drafting his or her will, it’s best to discuss the issue with contesting wills lawyers.

However, one of the best ways to ensure these disputes never arise in the first place is for the testator to know the ins and outs of keeping a will updated to reflect his or her exact wishes.

One of the most common questions regarding wills and how to keep them accurate is in regards to how often the document should be revised. The New South Wales Trustee & Guardian Attorney General & Justice has sought to clear up any confusion over this, outlining when and why a will should be updated with the help of an expert.

Because relationships, family members and individual feelings are subject to change, a will should always change with them to reflect this sentiment. This can come at any time, however there are several examples of when a testator may want to work with an executor to hash out a will’s details.

Most common reasons to revise your will

Changes in personal relationships are one of the most obvious – and common – reasons for altering a will. This may be from a marriage, a separation or divorce or beginning a de-facto relationship.

Children and grandchildren also influence the direction of a will. If you have children or grandchildren – or if any of them marry or divorce – you’ll want to take a closer look at your will.

Cases involving death are also a clear indication that you should revisit your will. If the executor named in the will either becomes ill or dies, or one of the beneficiaries in the will dies, you’ll need to reassess your estate plan. This also goes for the death of a spouse.

It’s also important to consider how rapidly economic environments can change. While the large sum you wrote in your will may have seemed generous when you last made your will, this may have changed. Currency and inflation are certainly something to consider, and may prompt you to look at the document again.

Even if none of the above have happened to you, it’s recommended to revisit your will at least every five years to help you avoid inheritance disputes later on.

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