In recent times, Australia has followed most of the modernised world and has recognised the legality of same-sex marriages. Until this time, relationships may have been recognised in certain jurisdictions, but many of the protections afforded to heterosexual couples were simply not available. Of course, this news was celebrated by many same-sex couples who may have been together for some time but wanted to sanctify their marriage, and there was a rush to do so soon after the law was passed. However, additional complications may now arise for long-term couples in this situation, and they may need to address important documents to make sure that they are still legal. What is involved here?
Change in the Law
If two people have lived together for a long period of time, then it is likely that they will want to prepare for the future and make sure that each individual is protected, financially and otherwise, if one were to pass away. In short, they would create a will that would identify how their assets were to be distributed, so there were no misconceptions after that fateful day.
Validity of Earlier Wills
Some lawyers and legal experts believe that these documents may no longer be valid, if the individuals in question had subsequently married as soon as the law was changed. This is because state and federal regulations typically state that any new marriage may revoke a will admitted previously, unless it was made 'in contemplation of marriage'. As individuals could not contemplate marriage due to the fact that it was illegal at that time, then this clause would probably not apply. However, it's also possible that they may have inserted some text that referred to any possible change in public policy, should that happen in the future. This may get around this issue, but it is always better to check first.
Draft It Again
In any case, it's very important for those individuals to readdress the wording of any will that they made before and to completely redraft a new one, if needed. This will eliminate any possible complications in the future. After all, the worst-case scenario is that the deceased is determined to be 'intestate', because the will was not valid. This can lead to an unwelcome outcome for all concerned.
Checking Your Case
If you're in this situation and are not sure of the validity of an older will, get in touch with a wills and estate lawyer so that you can put this right.