Updating Your Will and Insurance Policies After Separating

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When last did you review your will, insurance or superannuation fund?

The reality is many do not think twice about these important issues after a separation or divorce. Dobinson Davey Clifford Simpson recommends you do so, especially if you no longer want to provide for your former spouse in the event of your death.

Here are answers to commonly asked questions. However, they’re no substitute for legal advice tailored to your own circumstances.

My wife and I are separated and we have mutual wills. Should I change my will?

Yes, if you no longer want to provide for your wife in the event of your death.

My wife and I are in the process of divorcing and I have not changed my mutual will. What should I do?

Under the ACT Wills Act any beneficial gift under a will to a married spouse is automatically revoked upon divorce, unless the Supreme Court is satisfied that this was not the intention of the testator (person who made the will).

What about the family home?

Most married couples hold the family home as joint tenants—when one spouse dies the surviving spouse takes ownership of the property regardless of what is in the will.

Before dealing (through transfer or sale) with the family home as part of final property orders or a binding financial agreement you can change the joint tenancy arrangements, however you should obtain legal advice. Separated couples holding assets as tenants in common may name which beneficiary or beneficiaries their individual assets pass to in the event of death.

I am separated and still have insurance policies/superannuation funds naming my spouse as beneficiary—what should I do?

Contact your insurance provider to remove your spouse as beneficiary if you don’t want him/her to benefit. Superannuation funds, however, can be different because they usually depend on the terms of the Trust Deed. In limited cases you cannot stop your spouse from receiving a benefit should you die.