Our clients often ask us if they have current estate planning documents. Stephanie Rendell, Associate Solicitor and Head of the Wills & Estates Team at RNG Lawyers explains what happens to your old Wills and Enduring Powers of Attorney.
In general terms, a Will does not expire. A Will can be revoked, usually by the creation of a newer Will. Even though your last Will may still be valid, the important thing to remember is that it may not be suitable for your needs. Your circumstances may have changed significantly since you prepared the Will. Your wishes may be different as well. We generally advise clients to read their Will at least once a year to check that it still accords with their needs and wishes.
We also recommend that clients consider reviewing their Will with a lawyer if their circumstances change dramatically or their wishes change. Some examples include:
you marry, remarry, divorce;
one of your beneficiaries has died; or
you have acquired substantial assets not covered by your Will.
Documents that allow for substitute decision making (such as an Enduring Power of Attorney or a Medical Treatment Decision Maker document) are also unlikely to expire but may be revoked. Although the legislation has changed in this area over time, it is usually the case that the documents in force immediately prior to the changes will be "grandfathered" and will continue to apply even though the legislation has been updated.
Even though the documents might be valid, it is important to review these documents regularly. You may need to execute new documents to get full the benefit of the law changes.
The position is different for Binding Death Nominations made through your Superannuation Fund. Generally, these nominations last for 3 years after which they will either convert to being non-binding or may cease to operate at all. This will depend on the terms of your individual Superannuation Fund. We recommend that you review your Superannuation Binding Death Nominations at least once a year to ensure that this deadline is not missed. For more information about Superannuation Binding Death Nominations, see our blog on this topic.
If you would like to revisit or review your estate planning documents please contact us for an appointment.