What can go wrong with wills
The new year is an excellent time to check your Will to make sure it is updated to accommodate the changes in your life.
Joshua Crowther, Law Society Accredited Specialist in Wills and Estates at Stacks Law Firm, offers this scenario of what can go wrong if you haven’t kept up with updating your Will.
“Imagine this. A couple separate. They bought their house together in 1990 and it’s now worth $500,000. Their combined assets such as car, shares and cash add up to another $500,000. They change their Wills to ensure their kids get everything equally if either of them die, instead of it going to each other.
The couple agree to divide their assets so that the wife gets the house and the husband takes the cash, shares and car. All amicable so far and the transfers take effect.
The husband finds a new wife who comes with a bit of baggage and sizable debts. Soon the husband discovers the piggy bank he has from his marriage is starting to dwindle.
“Meanwhile the wife is still close to their two adult children and helps looking after the new grandkids. Tragedy strikes. She is killed in a car accident. She died believing her house would go to her children, helping set them up for life.
However upon her death the children discover that she still owned the house as a joint tenant with her husband who now has nothing left from his first marriage and has made his new family his priority.
“They are shocked to find out their father gets the house solely because of the law of survivorship – meaning it doesn’t pass under the Will. The ex-husband quickly sells the house to pay off the remaining debts and his estranged kids miss out completely.”
Mr Crowther says this type of scenario shows why it’s important to keep your Will and affairs up to date as your circumstances change.
“The mother should have ensured the property was transferred into her name in order for the Will to deal with the home. There are variant problems which can easily arise from the way in which the home is held; either as tenants in common or joint tenants. It is best to seek specialist legal advice in relation to this as what’s best varies according to the person’s circumstances.”