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SSM wedded bliss still needs legal protections: A checklist for the newly married

Written by:
Will Barsby
National Special Counsel

It’s an exciting day for same-sex-couples in Australia who are now able to officially wed. But a legally binding marriage isn’t the safeguard for all your rights. It's important to remember there are legal changes all married couples still need to make to ensure their new husband or wife is protected under the law.


You still need to formally make your new spouse a 'nominated beneficiary' on all your super accounts. This means there will be no disputes on who you leave your money to if you pass away. This is not automatically a right given to your legal wife or husband, and can be anyone you choose who is a dependent. But unless you specify who you would like to leave the money to, someone else could potentially be legally entitled to a portion of your super and insurance monies. This is an important legal check everyone should make regardless of their marital status. 

Enduring power of attorney:

You still need to set up an enduring power of attorney. This is where for financial or personal matters, you appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do that for yourself - for example if you are sick. This isn’t automatically appointed to your legal spouse. You may have already put this paperwork in place before your new marriage, so you should make sure it is updated.

Update your will:

The last will you signed is the document that is legally binding, so updating your will is important in any change of life circumstances. This can include marriage, divorce or the birth of children. It is often forgotten but can prevent much heartache for a family during difficult times.


Life insurance and other insurance policies: 

The benefits of insurance are not always automatically passed onto your legally wedded partner. There a many kinds of cover people have including total and permanent disability cover, trauma cover, death cover and income protection. You need to formally request where these funds will be bequeathed.

Written by Will Barsby. Last modified: August 31, 2018.

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