Bought or Sold a Property? Why It’s Important to Update Your Will

Conveyancing

Bought or Sold a Property? Why It’s Important to Update Your Will

When a person makes a will detailing how they want their assets to be distributed after they die, and by whom, they often think that’s the end of the matter.

In fact, this important legal document should be updated whenever there is a significant change in your life circumstances, such as marriage or divorce, entering or exiting a de facto relationship, when children or grandchildren are born, when an executor or beneficiary dies, and when your financial situation substantially changes.

That last point is particularly relevant if you either sell or buy a property after you made the original will, given this is the most significant asset most people will hold in their lifetime. By updating your will to reflect the changed situation with this important financial asset, you provide clarity and certainty to your beneficiaries should you suddenly become incapacitated or die.

A key question in terms of estate planning, including making or updating a will, is how you intend to hold the property – whether you are a joint tenant with your partner or tenants in common. This distinction is important and can affect what happens to the property if you suddenly pass away.

Joint tenants versus tenants in common

Perhaps you bought a property with a spouse or de facto partner and owned it as joint tenants, essentially meaning you are co-owners but whom the law views as one owner. Most married couples hold property like this. But if the relationship later ends, and then you die, your share of the property will automatically pass to your former partner regardless of what it says in your will (also known as the ‘right of survivorship’).

For this reason, people are often advised to sever any joint tenancy and instead hold the property as ‘tenants in common’, where a percentage interest in the property is specified for each party. By doing so, your share of the property can be included in your estate and passed to a beneficiary nominated in your will, rather than an ex-partner through survivorship.

The process of changing a joint tenancy to tenants in common, or changing each party’s percentage interest in the property, is a fairly easy one through the Titles Office and does not require the consent of your former spouse. And while severing joint tenancy does not attract stamp duty, change of ownership of property can have taxation implications which should be considered as part of updating your estate plan with a legal expert in this area.

When buying a property, discussing whether it will be held as joint tenants or tenants in common is an important issue to decide and should be reflected in your will to prevent any confusion or uncertainty should you die.

Equally, if you decide to sell property, put it in trust or into a partnership, or do anything else which changes its character in terms of your ownership, this change should be reflected in an update to your will so that you are not bequeathing something to a beneficiary that in essence no longer exists.

What needs to be done to update a will?

Estate planning experts advise that you should re-assess and potentially revise your will every two or three years. Any changes need to be properly documented and witnessed so that your will remains valid.

At Big Law, we have years of experience advising people on making a will as part of estate planning, as well as guiding them through the process of updating the will when appropriate. Contact us today on (07) 3482 6999 to ensure your will accurately reflects your wishes, is properly drafted and legally executed.

How We Can Help

Big Law Lawyers Strathpine offers you the same comprehensive suite of legal services that you would expect to only find in the city.

We are a successful well-established legal practice based in Strathpine, Brisbane. We have earned a reputation for providing trustworthy, practical legal advice to a diverse range of clients, in both Brisbane and regional Queensland.

Things to Read

What is the Process for Removing a Power of Attorney in Queensland

Granting someone power of attorney is a significant legal step, entrusting that person with the authority to make important decisions about your life. However, situations may arise where you find it necessary to revoke this power. For any of a number of reasons, an attorney may not be able to perform their duties adequately, orRead More »What is the Process for Removing a Power of Attorney in Queensland

What Do the Changes to the Property Law Act and the Introduction of a Seller Disclosure Scheme Mean for Buyers and Sellers of Property?

An updated version of Queensland’s Property Law Act (‘the Act) was recently passed into law designed to modernise, improve and streamline the operation of the Act for both buyers and sellers. Key changes to the Act include: introduction of a statutory seller disclosure scheme (Seller Disclosure Scheme) applying to all freehold sales of land; updatedRead More »What Do the Changes to the Property Law Act and the Introduction of a Seller Disclosure Scheme Mean for Buyers and Sellers of Property?

What are the Disclosure Obligations For a Retirement Village and What Happens if They are Not Complied With

The role of retirement villages in Australian society are increasingly important given our aging population, ideally providing comfortable and secure living arrangements for seniors. The process of securing a place in a retirement village can be complex, however, and a prospective resident should receive expert legal advice before committing their signature to a contract. ToRead More »What are the Disclosure Obligations For a Retirement Village and What Happens if They are Not Complied With

Will Exit Fees Payable at the End of a Retirement Village Lease Affect the Inheritance Available to My Children

Queensland’s weather and lifestyle make it a popular, preferred destination for retirees in Australia, meaning the place of retirement villages as a living option for seniors is an important consideration once working life has ended. There are different arrangements by which residents secure a ‘right to reside’ in Queensland retirement villages, including loan and license… Read More »Will Exit Fees Payable at the End of a Retirement Village Lease Affect the Inheritance Available to My Children

Podcasts to Listen to

Can Step-Children Contest a Will?

It probably comes at no surprise, that in the context of estate administration, people who may be beneficiaries, or those that think they should be, may want to contest the Will. This can often concern step children. In Queensland, this process is often referred to as a family provision claim. To learn more about thisRead More »Can Step-Children Contest a Will?

How can an Executor be removed?

One of the most important aspects of estate planning is of course, making sure you have the right executor. But what happens if things don't work out or circumstances change and you want another executor. In this podcast, Estate Planning Lawyer, Elise Jacques discusses the matter. Elise Jaques Solicitor Make an appointment

What Does the New Property Law Act Mean for Sellers of Property?

In QLD, the Property Law Act 2023 (the Act) passed Parliament on 25 October 2023. The primary objective of the Act is to simplify, streamline and modernise Queensland's property law regime by replacing the Property Law Act 1974 (Qld). But what are the key elements, in particular those that will impact upon sellers of propertyRead More »What Does the New Property Law Act Mean for Sellers of Property?

Avoiding the Estate Planning Risks When Moving into a Retirement Village

In recent years, there has been an exponential increase in the number of retirement villages being built, and of course, the number of people moving into them. In the context of the legalities, there is often an emphasis on the contractual obligations when buying into such a village. But what about the impact on estateRead More »Avoiding the Estate Planning Risks When Moving into a Retirement Village