24 Jun 2015
Separation, Wills & Enduring Powers of Attorney: Have you really removed your Ex?
In Western Australia, the act of divorce generally revokes a Will. However, if you are in a de-facto relationship, the act of ending your relationship does not revoke your will or remove an ex de-facto spouse from receiving benefits allocated to them.
This means that an Ex de-facto partner can come back for a ‘second bite of the cherry’ in the event of your death. Likewise, so too can a married spouse in circumstances where you have separated but never officially divorced and not updated your will.
Enduring Powers of Attorney
Unlike wills, enduring powers of attorney are not automatically revoked by divorce and continue to operate until such time as the donor formally revokes them or dies. Furthermore, it is also possible for a person (“the donor”) to have multiple enduring powers of attorney in operation at any one point in time (as the signing of a new enduring power of attorney, does not automatically revoke previous ones).
This means that an ex spouse (married or de-facto) may be entitled to exercise powers as an attorney long after your Family Court matters have been resolved.
What to do?
If you have recently separated, you should review your will and enduring power of attorney documents to ensure that they continue to reflect your intentions and are up to date. You may need to revoke existing documents and implement new ones. We recommend that you attend upon a specialist wills and estates lawyer for assistance and advice.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org