Having a will ensures your property is distributed according to your wishes after you die. This may include property such as your house and monies in your bank account.
Without a will, you will die intestate, meaning your estate will be distributed according to the Administration and Probate Act 1919 (‘The Act’). This means your assets may be inherited by relatives who you would not have chosen to receive your property. It could also cause significant financial hardship for your family and add stress to an already challenging time.
Who will inherit my property if I do not have a will?
Section 72G of The Act provides a list of relatives who are entitled to receive your estate after you die when you do not have a will. These are listed in priority order.
Only a Partner
1(a) Where you have a partner, but no children, your partner will receive the entire estate.
Children and Partner
1(b) Where you have a partner and children, your partner will receive an initial sum of up to $100,000 from your estate, plus half of any remaining estate, with your children receiving the other half of the remaining estate.
1(c) Where you do not have a partner, but do have children, your estate will be divided equally between your children.
1(d) Where you do not have a partner or children, but you do have surviving relatives, your estate will be distributed to them in accordance with the order of priority set out in The Act.
No Surviving Family
1(e) Where you have no partner, children or relatives, the State will receive your estate.
Having a will helps to reduce disagreements over your property as it is clear what your wishes are. This allows a smooth transition for your already grieving family.
For instance, consider this scenario:
James is married to Maria, with whom he has two children aged four and six years old. The home they live in and all the couple’s assets, including bank accounts, are in James’ sole name. James becomes ill and dies suddenly, without a will. The first $100,000 of the estate passes to Maria, and the remaining balance is to be divided with half given to Maria and half to their two children. This will cause financial stress to Maria and leave complicated legal issues to be resolved.
Planning a will can be challenging. Caitlin Swan is contactable at our office on 8227 1970 if you would like to discuss your requirements and have your will prepared.