You’re getting married, Congratulations!
There’s lots of planning to do! Photographer, Caterer, Flowers; Add making a will to your list!
You’ve already got a will? Are you aware that from the date of your marriage your will automatically revokes – unless your will was made ‘in contemplation of marriage’.
Not many people are aware that a marriage or civil union invalidates a will.
If you were to die without a will, this means you die ‘intestate’ and your estate will be distributed in accordance with the Administrations Act. Your estate may not go to the persons you would want your estate to go to.
So while you are deciding who is going to sit next to Old Aunt Maude, discuss what you wish to happen when you die.
While we are talking about marriage, we may as well talk about what would happen in the event of you separating.
Separation does not revoke a will – that’s right – your ‘ex’ will still benefit from your estate and will be your executor should you have appointed them. It is most important that in the event you do separate you review your will immediately.
It is really important if this is your second marriage or if you have children from other relationships.
A Separation Order or Dissolution of Marriage / Civil Union issued by the Court does not revoke your will either, only parts of it. A divorce will have the same effect as if your ‘ex’ had died just before you. This means they cannot be your executor, or take any gift that benefits them under the will. All other provisions in your will remain.
Here’s a ‘real life’ example: Bob married Shirley, they had two boys together. Bob and Shirley divorce after 20 years of marriage. Bob makes a will leaving his estate to his boys equally. Bob meets Sally and they get married. Five years later Bob and Sally separate. Three years later Bob dies.
Bob has died intestate (without a will) – as his marriage to Sally has revoked his will. As he and Sally did not obtain a dissolution of marriage or a separation order from the court, he is still legally married to Sally. Under the Administrations Act, Sally will get all chattels and cars, also the first $155,000 of Bob’s estate and the balance of the estate (if any) will be split a third to Sally and two thirds to his children.
It is a good idea to review your will every five years or if a significant event happens in your life.
So before you say ‘I do’ speak to a solicitor or legal executive regarding drafting a will to suit your situation so you can enjoy your perfect day knowing you have every situation covered.
LM Wood – Registered Legal Executive