Planning your Estate means, taking all steps to ensure your assets are administered and distributed in a way that reflects your final wishes and intentions.
Although Estate planning can be complex, when it is mixed with the breakdown of a relationship, serious issues can arise.
When you separate from your spouse, whether you were married or not, you will most likely need to review and amend your Estate plan.
There are circumstances that revoke a Will and others where it is essential you review and amend your Will. For example, upon divorce, your former partner is not entitled to any gifts under your Will. If however you are separated, but not yet divorced, this does not automatically disentitle your former partner, therefore you should review and update your Will as soon as possible.
Some things to consider upon separating and considering the terms of your Will:
Property ownership – Is the property owned as tenants in common or joint tenants?
Depending on how your property is owned, serious implications for separated couples can arise relating to how the property is dealt with when one of the parties passes away. If the property is held as joint tenants, the property will automatically pass to the surviving spouse (even when you have separated).
If you pass away before your former spouse and have not finalised your property division (or commenced Court proceedings), then your assets will be distributed in accordance with either the terms of your last valid Will or under the rules of intestacy pursuant to the Succession Act.
Existing Power of Attorney
Under existing Power of Attorney arrangements your former spouse may still have authority to make decisions and act on your behalf as Attorney in relation to financial and personal/health matters.
We strongly recommend that if you have made a Power of Attorney document in favour of your former partner that you immediately attend to Revoking this Power of Attorney. If you fail to do this, they still may be able to make decisions on your behalf.
We recommend that if you have separated, or are considering separating from your spouse, you contact our office on 07 5444 1022 to arrange for an appointment to discuss the matters relating to your Estate plan as soon as possible. You can also email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.