After the recent passing of the same-sex marriage bill by Parliament, same sex couples are expected to keep the wedding industry very busy over the coming year. Couples should not overlook the need for a new or updated will and estate plan, as a marriage generally nullifies any previous will or plan prior to the marriage.
Some matters to consider with Wills and Estate planning include :
De facto protection
De facto couples need to make a will and estate plan that includes a Power of Attorney. A Power of Attorney is vital as in some instances where this is not completed the parties can be treated unfairly as the partner is not allowed to make medical decisions for example, which may lead to unnecessary stress and complications.
DIY Will Kits
Whilst DIY can save on legal fees, it may not be so practical for integrated families. For couples with blended families it may be worth seeking the services of a lawyer to draw up the will and Powers of Attorney as often the courts are besieged with DIY-will kits that have gone horribly wrong.
Update of Will
Whilst it is important to have a will, it is equally important to update the will. Generally, wills should be reviewed or updated every 5 years. However, it should be done earlier if there is a major change in family structure or medical circumstances.
Changes to family structure
Changes to family structure and additional dependants often lead to a change of a will. Examples include addition of grandchildren, stepchildren or even half-siblings that would require re-wording of the will to ensure that everyone is acknowledged.
These are also known as prenuptial arrangements and are now more acknowledged than previously due to court decisions and the increase of prenuptials. Prenuptials can be drawn up during the course of a relationship, not just at the start. Under law, if a couple co-habitates for at least two years, their financial assets can be divided in the same way as if they had been legally married for many years. A Binding Financial Arrangement is activated only if the union ends and it must specify how the assets are to be divided. This is different from a will which becomes effective on the death of one partner, or a Power of Attorney, which is invoked when one partner is incapacitated.
Paul suggests that you constantly review your position and he can place you with one of his associates to discuss these matters further.