What age to make a Will

Written by APS Wills & Estates Principal Lawyer Phillip Lambourne

Although it is unpleasant thinking about death, without a plan in place, you could be leaving your loved ones with a mountain of stress during an already emotional time. Creating a Will gives you peace of mind, knowing that your assets are in safe hands and your loved ones are supported.

The earlier you plan for the future, the better. Anything can happen at any time so if you are an adult with dependants or significant assets, it is time to focus on your Will.

It’s not so much about age, but more so about the time in life when you reach significant milestones that change the value of your assets or your family dynamics.

Buying your first home

Buying a home is a proud moment for all Australians. Your home is also most likely to be one of the most valuable assets that you will own. Whether you purchase a family home or an investment, most property represents a significant asset that can be assigned to beneficiaries in several ways. You may decide to divide your estate equally amongst family members, or to one family member such as a spouse or child. By making these decisions in your Will, you will save your family the stress of making these decisions on your behalf or the stress of having some of these decisions made according to a formula out of their control.

Getting married or moving in with a domestic partner

Updating your Will after marriage is vital, as marriage automatically cancels a Will unless it was made in contemplation of that marriage. Also, having your Will created or updated will mean that your new spouse will be financially secure if you pass away before they do. This is particularly important when entering a marriage or domestic relationship that includes children from previous relationships and if you choose to have multiple beneficiaries. If you do not update your will to reflect this relationship change, a large part of your estate may be awarded to your spouse. This is worth keeping in mind if you intend to have multiple beneficiaries.

Having children

Having a baby will have an incredible impact on your life in more ways than one. It is important to keep in mind that your child will depend on you for many years. So what happens if something happens and you are no longer in their life? Complex family situations and legal guardianship for children are important decisions that can be captured in a Will. Children with cognitive or physical disorders face potential difficulties in Will making especially around securing lifetime care. You will also need to consider who you will assign as your child’s guardian if both parents pass before your child and who will look after the money for them until they are old enough. This will give you confidence that your family is taken care of and provided with the appropriate financial support.

After a relationship breakdown or divorce

Relationship breakdown can cause enormous stress on a family. Updating your Will accordingly will ensure that your loved ones are looked after when you’re no longer here. It will also mean that estranged partners are not included in your Will if you wish to exclude them. It is important to know that a mere separation or relationship breakdown does not affect the validity of a Will, so prompt action is recommended. Depending on which state you live in, a subsequent divorce may automatically mean that your Will is invalid. In some states, divorce will simply mean that your former spouse is no longer an executor or beneficiary of your Will. Either way, after a divorce it is important to check your Will to reassess any changes.

Starting a business

If you own a business, this is an asset that needs to form a significant part of your Will.  Intergenerational businesses or businesses with international assets can be complicated. It is important to seek advice from a lawyer if you have a business that needs to be managed when you pass.

Is it time to create your Will?

Have you reached any of these significant milestones but you’re yet to create your Will? Take time to reflect on what you need to update so that everything is in order. Depending on your circumstances, creating your Will can often be a straightforward process. The APS Wills & Estates team are here to help you every step of the way.

*written by APS Wills & Estates Principal Lawyer Phillip Lambourne

Phil is a lawyer with over 35 years of experience in private practice and over 25 years of experience in the trusts and estate planning area. As Principal Lawyer with APS Wills & Estates, Phil provides advice and prepares documentation in the areas of Wills, Powers of Attorney, Probate and Estate Administration for clients across Australia. He also provides clients with conveyancing and property law, commercial law and state tax advice services. 

When Phil isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with family, reading new books, and watching new shows with some good scotch whisky, red wine and cheese. Phil also enjoys playing trombone in the Melbourne Lawyers Big Band!

To get in touch with Phil to discuss your Will.