Your marriage and your Will

On 9 December 2017, amendments to the Marriage Act 1961 commenced to redefine marriage as the ‘union of 2 people to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life’. There are many couples celebrating these amendments which became effective at midnight on 8 December 2017. However, for those who decided not to wait for Australian legislative change and celebrated their marriage in another jurisdiction the fact that the law has now recognised their marriage is not without its own complications.

It seems that the effect of the new laws is that they recognise a marriage celebrated in another jurisdiction as being a legal marriage only from 9 December 2017. The Wills Act 1936 (SA) provides that a will is automatically revoked by marriage or by the registration of a relationship under the Relationship Registrations Act 2016 (SA). No matter how long a couple have been together, if their marriage was solemnised outside Australia and has been recognised as a legal marriage under the amendments to the Marriage Act a will made by either party to that marriage prior to 8 December 2017 may be automatically invalidated by the legal recognition of the marriage on that date.

So in the midst of the celebrations don’t forget your will!

Although your spouse, married or de facto, is likely to be able to claim much of your estate should you die without a valid will the issues and costs involved in dealing with an intestate estate are greater that those of administering a will. When losing a loved one many people take comfort in the opportunity a will gives them of knowing and being able to carrying out their loved one’s last wishes. Added to this is the very real possibility that the distribution of your estate under the intestacy provisions of the Administration and Probate Act 1919 (SA) may not be exactly what you would want to happen.

A new year resolution for all those who do not have a valid will – contact a reputable solicitor with estate planning expertise and arrange for one to be drafted.