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3 Things to Do After Completing Your Will

3 Things to Do After Completing Your Will

A will is a formal document which notifies others of your wishes should you pass away. Find out what to do after completing your will here.

9th September 2020
Reading Time: 3 minutes

A Will (or Testament) is an important legal document setting out how your assets and property will be divided once you pass away. Having a will is an excellent way to ensure your family is cared for in the event that anything unexpected happens. In this article, we’ll explain the actions you should take after completing your will to ensure your wishes are met.

1. Make sure it’s valid

The first thing you should check when you’ve completed your will is that it meets all the requirements for validity. For a will to be valid it must be:

  • Made by someone who is at least 18 years old
  • Made by someone who has testamentary capacity
  • In writing
  • Signed by the testator
  • The signature must be in the presence of at least two witnesses
  • These witnesses must attest and sign the will in the presence of the will-maker
  • The signature must be made with intention

2. Store it in a safe and secure place

Your will is one of the most important documents you will ever sign. After you’ve completed your will and ensured it’s validity you should make sure:

  • Your will is kept in a safe location
  • Your will is kept somewhere where it cannot be damaged, lost or stolen
  • Copies are made (and labelled as such)

At this time, it’s also a good idea to notify a close family member or friend about where your will is located. The reason it’s important to do this is because if you pass away and your will cannot be found, you may be deemed to have died intestate (without a valid will).

3. Understand how you can change your will

Updating your will

Sometimes you might need to update your Will for a number of different reasons. The best way to do this is by adding a codicil to your Will. A codicil is a document which is used to explain or modify a Testament. Formal requirements must be met in order for a codicil to be valid. However, it is important to keep in mind that you should avoid including any clauses which could cancel or revoke any previous Testaments that you have made, as you can end up cancelling it instead of updating it.

Revoking your will

A will is automatically revoked once a new valid will is made. For example, a will you made 20 years ago will be revoked if you make a new will today. Other than this, there are particular instances where you can revoke your will. Section 11 of the Succession Act 2006 (NSW) sets out when and how a Testament can be revoked, with similar provisions existing in the legislation of other states. Instances include:

  • If the revocation is authorised by sections 16 or 18 of the Act or by the operation of sections 12 or 13
  • By some form of written notice declaring intent to revoke the Will, in a matter prescribed by the Act 
  • The testator, or by someone in their presence and by their direction, burning, tearing or otherwise destroying the Will with the intention of revoking it 
  • Done by the testator or by someone in their presence and by their direction, writing on the Will or dealing with it in such a way which would satisfy the Court from the state of the Will that the testator intended to have it revoked

Finally

Drafting a will can feel like a complicated task, however setting out your wishes in writing means that your estate will be distributed according to your wishes when you die. Beyond this, it’s important to make sure your will is valid, stored safely and that you update it should your circumstances or wishes change. If you have further questions about your estate, it is worth getting in touch with an estate planning lawyer.

Author
Jackie Olling

Jackie is the Content Manager at Lawpath and manages the content team. She has a Law/Arts (Politics) degree from Macquarie University and is a solicitor in NSW. She's interested in how technology can help shape the future legal landscape.