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02 March 2015

Where there’s a will there’s a? – A few things to do when you separate

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There was a report in the press recently about a young man dying and his wife inheriting the whole of his estate under the terms of his will. Nothing remarkable there? Well, there was actually because the young man had been separated from his wife for in excess of 15 months, had effected a property settlement and had re-partnered. But he forgot to change his will or chose not to, nobody knows.

So, a timely reminder of a few things you should look at when you separate:-

  1. Do you have a power of attorney in favour of your spouse? If so, do you wish to revoke it? If so, do you wish to make another power of attorney in favour of another person? You may particularly like to appoint another person under an enduring power of attorney, as otherwise your spouse is your next of kin.
  2. Change passwords on all online access accounts/sites if these are known to your spouse. Change the questions and answers for identity checks. Check your privacy settings on social media.
  3. Do you wish to change your Will?
  4. Do you wish to sever the joint tenancy on jointly held property so that you can bequeath  your half by Will
  5. Check your bank accounts. Do you have direct debits that won’t be honoured by your spouse? Set up new ones. Do you have credit available from credit cards or redraws on loan accounts? Consider appointing 2 to sign, freezing these accounts or watch them for transactions that are not agreed.
  6. Keep things of sentimental value somewhere safe and keep copies of important financial documents.
  7. Check your superannuation to see if you have nominated beneficiaries.
  8. Is any real estate registered solely in the name of your spouse. If so, consider caveating your interest.

Lastly, its probably a good idea to talk to a family lawyer, even if everything is amicable, to make sure that you’ve ticked all the boxes!

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