Getting married - Put updating your will on the to do list

Getting married? Put updating your will on the to do list.

I have had quite a few cases recently where people have come to see me to update what they thought was their current and valid will, only for me to tell them that that will was invalid due to their subsequent marriage. Take note of this because there are many well meaning couples out there who decide to tie the knot at last minute after a partner becomes ill and before they pass away. While their intention may be to solidify their partner’s claim on their estate, the reality is that the marriage has just made things a lot more complicated if their will was made prior to their marriage.

In NSW, the relevant legislation specifically states that a will is revoked by the marriage of a will maker. But there are some limited exceptions if the will was made in contemplation of the marriage, or if it appoints your partner as executor and to the extent that your partner is a beneficiary. Any bequests made to anyone other than your new husband/wife are effectively void, and this can complicate the estate administration and probate application process later, particularly if some parts of the will are valid but other clauses are not. For example, in a blended family/second marriage situation, if a will provides for your new husband/wife to get the majority of the estate, but you also left something to your children from a previous relationship, the marriage would effectively void the bequests to the children. This is exactly the type of situation that most will makers are trying to avoid by preparing a will in the first place, and as you can imagine, the potential for expensive litigation in these circumstances is high.

So after the ceremony is over, and you are sorting out all the paperwork to change your name, put making a new will on the lists of things to do. It could save you and your loved ones from a lot of problems later. KC Hilton, WNB Legal.