While we like to think every Australian has prepared for the inevitable and has a current Will… we know this isn’t the case. A quick Google search told us that over half of all Aussie adults in fact haven’t got a Will or have done any estate planning. So, what happens if I die without a Will?
Who Inherits Your Estate?
When a person passes away without a valid Will, their estate is subject to the rules of intestate succession. This legal concept outlines how assets are distributed when there is no Will to guide the process. The default inheritance hierarchy is determined by the law and potential beneficiaries follow a predetermined order. In the absence of an executor, the next of kin, often a spouse, assumes the role of administering the estate. However, this can only be done after obtaining a grant of letters of administration on intestacy. This grant signifies court approval for the authorised individual to handle the estate.
The Succession Act 1981 schedules the distribution of assets among the next of kin.
Applying For Letters Of Administration (Intestacy)
The application process for letters of administration in cases of intestacy mirrors that of probate. However, the key distinction lies in the absence of a valid Will. This step involves legal procedures to validate the authority of the designated individual to administer the estate according to intestate succession rules.
Download “Your Guide To Obtaining A Grant Of Probate Or Letters Of Administration” here.
Legal And Financial Consequences Of Dying Without A Will
Sadly, dying intestate can have significant legal and financial repercussions for your loved ones. The absence of a Will may result in a prolonged and complex probate process, where the court determines how your estate should be divided. This can be both time-consuming and expensive, as legal fees and court costs accumulate. Moreover, dying without a Will could lead to unnecessary taxes and reduced inheritances due to less favourable tax treatment compared to having a carefully planned Will.
Custody And Guardianship Issues For Minor Children
For those with minor children, the absence of a Will can create significant uncertainties regarding guardianship, leading to potential disputes over custody. In the event of untimely death, it’s vital to designate a guardian who will be responsible for the children’s well-being and decision-making. Failing to address this issue in a Will can also lead to legal battles and added stress for the surviving family. A comprehensive Will and estate plan can offer clarity and stability for the future of minor children.
So, what happens if you kick the bucket without a valid Will in place?
If you pass away without a valid Will, your estate will be distributed according to intestate laws, which vary by location. Your assets might go to unintended beneficiaries, potentially causing family disputes and becoming costly. Therefore, we highly recommend establishing a valid Will if you haven’t got one. Book a free initial consult with a estate planning lawyer here to get started.
Let’s get prepared!
Creating a Will offers you the opportunity to express your wishes clearly and leave a detailed plan for the distribution of your assets. It ensures that your possessions, property, and investments are distributed the way you want them to. A Will also enables you to minimise potential conflicts among your beneficiaries, as your intentions are legally documented.
By taking the time to organise a Will, you provide your loved ones with a roadmap during a time of emotional distress, making the transition smoother and less stressful for everyone involved.
If you want to secure the future of your loved ones and ensure your wishes are respected after you pass, it is essential that you seek professional advice to help you ensure all legal procedures are followed. Speak with one of the best estate planning lawyers on the Sunshine Coast or Brisbane today.
Book a free initial consultation below.