What happens if you die without a Will?

Research shows that around 50% of people in NSW do not have a Will.

So what are the consequences if you die without a Will?
  • A person who dies without a Will is said to have died “intestate”.
  • The assets of a person who has died intestate are distributed according to a prescribed formula set by law. This formula is rigid and is enforced by the Supreme Court in NSW.
What is the order of inheritance?

The order of inheritance generally runs as follows:

  1. Spouse
  2. Children, Grandchildren, Great Grandchildren
  3. Parents
  4. Sisters and Brothers
  5. Grandparents
  6. Uncles and Aunties
  7. Cousins
What are the other consequences?

In addition to the rigid order of inheritance, dying without a Will can also have some other unintended consequences including:

  • A relative or next of kin will need to apply to take up administration of the deceased’s estate (this role is known as the executor under a Will). The Court has strict requirements on who can apply to be the administrator and it can place an unintended burden on family members. If the deceased died with a Will, the Will would clearly set out who is appointed as the executor thereby overcoming this hurdle.
  • The person applying for administration of the deceased estate will need to prove to the court that the deceased did not leave a Will. This may seem like an easy task, however the court will require evidence of attempts to search for a Will including writing to banks and local solicitors, which can becomes an administrative burden and may result in additional costs.
  • The person applying for administration will need to show evidence that the deceased was not in a relationship at the time of their death. This again can be an administrative burden.
So what can I do if I don’t have a Will?

As you can see the laws of intestacy are fixed and may not be adequate to cover your wishes. This is why a Will is such an important document to ensure your family and loved ones are looked after when you pass away as you see fit.

We have a team of experienced estate planning solicitors who can assist you with preparing a Will that suits your personal circumstances. If would like to discuss the above in detail or have further questions please do not hesitate to contact our office on 9523 5535 or email info@southernwaters.com.au

Take a look at our other blogs 3 Essential Documents in your Estate Plan and Death and Superannuation