The fear that after you pass away, your partner will change their Will 0



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They come to us, an ageing couple with death in mind and thoughts aligned.

Theirs is a familiar tale – we want to keep it simple and leave everything to each other and then to the kids. We can do that, I say but, without wanting to rain on your mutual desires, may I raise a delicate subject?

What you want is very common – we call them ‘mirror wills’. But your Will is your wish and you can change it anytime you like (usually). At this point, allow me to descend into verse: ‘Mirror mirror on the wall: Will my spouse for love doth fall?’

The future can be hard to predict except to say one of you will normally die first. The other one could then discover line dancing and meet a later life love. So enamoured are they with twinkle toes, they promptly change their Will to give everything to the new found hussy/lothario and disinherit your children.

Most couples at this point of the discussion will turn and peer at each other, not so much longingly, but more malevolently. Some say, “You wouldn’t would you?!” whereas others are heard to mumble “Who would want you?!”

We call it the Ken and Barbie Syndrome – a fear of what the surviving spouse might ‘get up to’ when the other has gone on their celestial transfer.

Most determine it is not a risk which perhaps can be viewed either, at best, as a compliment to each other or, at worst, a scathing assessment of the lack of, shall we call it, marketability of their spouse.

Believe it or not however, for those who take the scenario seriously, the law has mechanisms to address the concern. The most common is a contract. The spouses not only do their mirror Wills but we prepare another document to go with their Wills called a “Contract to Make a Will”. In it they each agree not to change their Wills without the consent of the other or their Executor.

The law of life and later on is so interesting, isn’t it?

Share your thoughts below.

Brian Herd

Brian Herd is an ageing and passionate lawyer with the Brisbane law firm, CRH Law. He practices in Elder Law or law relating to older people and is regarded as one of Australia's leading lawyers in the area. He has extensive experience in legal issues impacting on older people including life and estate planning, estate administration, disputes over Wills, superannuation, social security, retirement living and aged care, incapacity and disability law, the Guardianship regime, elder abuse, enduring powers of attorney, family agreements, disputes and mediation. He is a former member of the Queensland Law Reform Commission, the Deputy Chair of the Queensland Law Society’s, Elder Law Committee, an adjunct lecturer in the School of Human Services at Griffith University, a member of the Law Council of Australia’s Elder Law and Succession Committee, and an international member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys of America.

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