8 min read

Time Keeps On Ticking After The Clock Stops

Updating your Will is a key part of protecting your family after you’re gone.

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Every relationship is unique; emotions are so deeply personal and ingrained in our sense of self that no two people will feel things the same way. This becomes particularly relevant as we progress as a society, and relationship dynamics become increasingly complex; changes in laws, family structure, or personal belief mean that we need to be proactive in our end-of-life wishes - and this means keeping a Will updated.

Why should I write a Will if it’s just going to get contested?

Not an uncommon question for many Australians. While we know Wills are vital, and that everyone should have one, the idea of writing a Will only for it to end up being ignored or contested is daunting; a Will is the most personal document we’ll ever have, and to many it may feel like a rejection of themselves as a person to have it disagreed with by a loved one.

That’s why it’s important to not just write a Will, but to start having those conversations about your death and the aftermath with your loved ones now. You can clearly state your wishes until you’re blue in the face, but emotions aren’t known to be ruled by logic; letting your loved ones know in advance your wishes allows space for discussion, understanding, and helps minimise any potential fallout or hurt feelings in the future.

Only a small percentage of Wills written in Australia are contested each year (roughly 5%), and in these circumstances, having a Will helps to provide a strong foundation for your wishes and wants to stand upon - without a Will, there would be no starting point for any negotiations to occur.

The majority (roughly 95%) of the time, a Will is not contested, and is essential in avoiding any administrative headaches or costly legal actions for your family.

Updating your Will is a proactive step in protecting your legacy

You’ve written your Will, you’ve made reasonable provisions, and you’ve had the hard conversations with your loved ones - you’re done, right?

Nope. Many of us think of a Will as something very final, something that’s one-and-done; we assume that our wishes won’t change, and that we’ve made the right decisions for our circumstances.

But life is unpredictable, messy, and chaotic; big changes can happen at any time, like meeting your soulmate and getting married, or new children, or even inheriting something you weren’t prepared for from someone else. That’s why it’s absolutely critical that updating your Will is something you revisit periodically (it’s recommended you update your Will every 3-5 years), along with having those conversations with your loved ones as things change.

Imagine: you’ve written your Will, and you’re pretty happy with how you’ve neatly laid everything out. 15 years later, you’re divorced and planning to remarry - but you haven’t even thought about updating your Will to reflect your new circumstances.
If you were to pass away in this circumstance, not only would it lead to emotional distress and hardship for your loved ones, the people who you want to inherit your legacy may be excluded from the process - leaving them no choice but to contest your Will.

Some factors that should lead you to consider updating your Will include:

  • Getting married or divorced (and indeed these events can often revoke your Will under the law!)

  • Having kids

  • Seeing those kids transition from minors to adults (there could have been decisions you made back in the day that aren’t appropriate anymore)

  • Selling an asset that you’ve specifically gifted under an old Will

  • Someone mentioned in your Will passing away or losing capacity

As we increasingly modernise as a community, updating your Will to match personal beliefs and societal ideals is important

Religion and politics are things we shouldn’t talk about at the dinner table, but when it comes to a Will, they can be more pressing and important than we realise for ourselves. As laws and attitudes change and shift, so too do our Wills; equality, equity, and fairness are cornerstones of Australian society, and reflecting those values in a Will is a way to be remembered for the right reasons amongst our loved ones and our wider community circles.

Remember, a Will is not just a distribution of your things, but a reflection of who you are as a person; keeping your Will updated to match your individuality and personal beliefs is a profound way of helping your loved ones understand who you were, and how best to honour you after your death.

How do I update a Will?

A Will can be updated at any time, either by use of a codicil (a supplemental document added to your Will) or by writing a new Will altogether.

A codicil must meet the same legal requirements as a Will, and they can get bulky and complicated if many of them are required. For this reason, it can often be simplest and more cost effective to sign a new Will.

Writing a new Will overrides any existing Will, and can also be a good way to reflect on your wishes, and decide if they’re still applicable to your current life circumstances.

There are many ways you can write a new Will to replace an existing one, as long as the new Will meets all legal requirements to be valid in your jurisdiction. Using an online Will writing platform, like Safewill, allows you not only the freedom to write your Will from anywhere, but also the ability to update it at any time without overwhelming you or adding complicated steps; a key part of ongoing and proactive estate planning.

Update your Will: A review of the how-to

  1. Keeping your Will updated is an ongoing part of making sure your estate plan accurately reflects your wishes

  2. It’s recommended that you update your Will every 3-5 years; Safewill provides free and unlimited updates to your Will for the first 12 months (and only $15 a year afterwards for the optional subscription)

  3. Keeping your Will updated can help to minimise potential conflict and fallout amongst your loved ones

  4. An updated Will states who you were as a person best, giving you a voice long after you’re gone

  5. You can update a Will at any time while you have capacity. Signing a new Will is the simplest way to achieve this.

Updating your Will before time runs out is part of proactive estate planning.
Go, slow down, stop - life's a little like a traffic light.

Life doesn’t end because yours has

It’s sad, but it’s true- everyone else has to keep on keeping on long after you’re gone; so making sure you’ve provided for your family's emotional and financial future in your Will is imperative. It will not only give them a sense of closure, by knowing that you thoughtfully decided on your legacy, but also the security of knowing that you’ve planned for their future circumstances and updated your Will accordingly.

We can’t reduce the emotional pain of losing a loved one, but we can assure their continued protection and financial security; keeping your Will updated is an ongoing act of love and care

You can update your existing Will by logging into your Safewill account, or get started writing a brand new Will here.

Frequently Asked Questions

When do I need to update my Will?

You should update your Will after any big life changes, like marriage, new children, or a large asset purchase. It’s recommended that you review your Will to update every 3-5 years.

Does it cost money to update my Will?

Adding codicils to a Will via a traditional lawyer can be expensive, particularly if you have a lot of updates to do.
Safewill provides unlimited updates to your Will for free for the first 12 months, with an option to subscribe to the same service for $15 a year afterwards.

Do I need a lawyer to update my Will?

You can update your Will without the need to engage a lawyer’s services, however, if you have a particularly complex estate or asset structures, it’s advisable to seek legal advice before updating your Will.

What happens if I don’t update my Will?

If you don’t update your Will, you leave your loved ones at risk of drawn out legal battles and large financial costs after your death. This could mean anything from the Will being contested to the people you care for missing out entirely.

Last updated 10th April 2024
Laura Barling
For Charities
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Safewill is an online service providing streamlined forms and information. Safewill is not a law firm or a substitute for a lawyer’s advice about complex estate planning issues.