We are Never Getting Back Together – 5 Estate Planning Tips When Separating

5 Estate Planning Tips When Separating

If you have separated from your spouse/civil partner but have not obtained an order for dissolution or divorce, or, terminated a civil partnership, then your will remains valid, as does any appointment of the person as an attorney (under a power of attorney document).

If you are in a de facto relationship (and there is no formalisation by marriage or registering a civil partnership) separation will revoke a disposition to a de facto partner. However, it can be harder to ascertain the “final date” of the relationship when it ends given there is usually no formal recording of this information.

To avoid any unintended consequences, such as a former spouse or partner benefiting from your estate or acting as your attorney, it is recommended to keep in mind the following:

  1. Update your will – If required, remove your spouse/partner from the will (this may be from acting as executor or as a beneficiary).
  2. Revisit your Power of Attorney (“POA”) – this may include revoking an existing POA if it appoints your spouse/partner as attorney and putting in place a new POA appointing a new attorney.
  3. Check your superannuation – if you have made a nomination in favour of your spouse/partner to receive your superannuation entitlements, consider updating your beneficiary nominations to reflect your wishes.
  4. Check your life insurance – if you have standalone life insurance policies it is advisable to check the recorded beneficiary nominations and determining whether they reflect your current wishes.
  5. Check your Advance Health Care Directive (“AHD”) – if you have an AHD in place, consider the appointments of attorneys in this document and whether it is prudent for this to be updated.

Given that formalisation of the cessation of relationships can often take some time, it is important that you consider the need to update your estate planning arrangements as a priority. This will hopefully avoid any unintended consequences resulting if something were to happen to you before formal cessation of the relationship has occurred.

By Emma Nisbet

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