December 2002

Wills And Relationships Go Hand In Hand

Every adult should have a Will. However, as a result of the provisions contained in the new Property (Relationships) Act, for everyone in a relationship (whether it be marriage or de facto) it is essential to have a Will.


A Will sets out your intentions as to what should happen when you die. Without a Will, Parliament has determined how your assets are divided amongst those with whom you have been in a relationship and family members. Such requirements frequently result in unfairness.

The new Act now creates further potential complications, particularly for those in de facto relationships without Wills. The first issue is the broad definition given to the word "relationship". It potentially incorporates situations where you may not have considered there was a relationship. The second issue is the extension of rights for children of those who are in a relationship with you (not just your children). The third issue is whether your de facto relationship continued until your death. A surviving de facto partner has legal rights, whereas if the relationship has already ended before your death the former partner has no right of entitlement. The problem is that you won’t be about to challenge the "partner’s" contention that the relationship continued until your death.

The Best Option

Getting the right information and making an appropriate Will is the best protection to ensure that, as far as the law allows, your loved ones (and not others) will get the benefit of your assets after your death. Making a Will is no longer as simple as it used to be. The danger of accepting advice from those who do not understand the implications of the law changes could well work to your significant disadvantage.

What to Remember?

  1. If you get married you need to update your Will immediately as any existing Will is automatically revoked on the marriage taking place;
  2. If you enter into a de facto relationship you need to update your Will to reflect your changed circumstances;
  3. If your marriage or de facto relationship ends you may need or wish to update your Will – this will depend upon your attitude to your former spouse or partner;
  4. The interests of your children and possibly your partner’s or spouse’s children need to be considered when making a Will.


Every adult should have a Will but for those who are in or have been in a marriage or de facto relationship the requirement to have a Will becomes even more essential. A Will will never be an absolute protection to stop those, after your death, from contesting your Estate. The advantage of a Will is at least you have clearly stated your wishes and it will be for the claimants to prove their case. Without a Will their task is that much easier and your wishes will not even be considered.