Tying the knot

For many, an upcoming wedding brings with it an array of emotions. Excitement, anticipation, uncertainty and stress, just to name a few. During such a time it is easy to forget about taking measures to ensure your wishes are recognised and respected in the unfortunate event of death or incapacity. Therefore, it’s important to add estate planning to your “To Do” list.

Marriage revokes any existing wills, meaning the will becomes invalid.    Laws in this area do vary from State to State but in New South Wales all wills are revoked by marriage[1] with certain saving provisions offered to spouses.

An easy way for couples (including de facto spouses) to ensure their wills remain valid after marriage is to include a clause expressing the will is made “in contemplation of marriage”.[2] Including such a clause would see a will drafted prior to marriage continue to be effective after marriage.

It’s not just wills that need to be considered with upcoming nuptials.  A revision of Powers of Attorney and Appointments of Enduring Guardian are also required to ensure the documents remain valid and you have the right people making important financial and health decisions for you in the event of incapacity. In relation to Powers of Attorney, it’s important to formally revoke outdated Powers of Attorney to prevent someone you don’t want acting as your attorney. In certain circumstances, an Appointment of Enduring Guardian will be revoked by marriage.

Superannuation binding death benefit nominations should also be reviewed to ensure distributions of death benefits can occur seamlessly and without dispute and delays.

Every estate plan is unique to the people involved and a “one size fits all” approach doesn’t usually provide the right outcome, particularly in blended family situations.

Marriage is an exciting life event and what better time to reconsider your estate plan than when starting a new chapter in life with your spouse. Updating your estate plan ensures that the ones you love are protected even after those wedding bells chime.

[1] Succession Act 2006 (NSW)(“SA”) ss 12(a).
[2] SA ss 12(3).

Sophie Reid


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