Will making is a lifetime process. Your Will should be reviewed regularly; particularly at key moments in your life (marriage, birth of children, divorce, retirement, purchasing major assets like a house, or business). If this isn’t done your Will is not going to reflect your intentions at the time of your death and may not provide adequately for your loved ones.
Interestingly it is life stage changes or changes in assets that trigger people to make a Will. However, in Australia the older you are the more likely it is that you will have a Will.
As part of the Families and generational asset transfers: Making and challenging wills in contemporary Australia project, over 2700 people participated in surveys and interviews.
In Australia 93% of older people have a will. However even with dependents only 35% of those under the age of 30 have a will. So what motivates people to make a Will – oddly it is not the awareness of the consequences of intestacy.
Over 80% of people believe that they made a Will because they believed it was a good idea to do so and came to that conclusion without being prompted. Those who say they were prompted gave family members, professionals and advertising as the common prompts.
As a Will is not a static document, it is important that it is updated to reflect your current intentions and circumstances. Again this appears to be something that is better understood by older Will makers. As those who made changes to their Will were older and had more valuable estates. The changes were made due to changes in their asset base, family responsibilities or both, reflecting those reasons that prompted them to prepare their first will.
Common reasons to update a Will were having children or grandchildren followed by changes in relationship status. Changes in financial circumstances, work or health were less commonly cited as important influencers in updating a Will. It was events such as having a child with a disability, or providing for members of a blended family that prompted changes to a Will.
Whatever is the motivation it is an important part of planning for your future to have a Will so that you can direct your estate to provide for your loved ones.