What happens if I don’t have a will?
If you die without a will you are said to die intestate. The results of intestate succession vary greatly depending on whether you were single or married, or had children at the time of your death. In most cases, your property is distributed in split shares to your ‘heirs’, which could include your surviving spouse, siblings, aunts and uncles, nieces, nephews, and distant relatives. Generally, when no relatives can be found, the entire estate goes to the state.
What follows is a small sample of how an estate could be divided depending on your circumstances:
Single with no children
If you are single and childless, your parents will receive your entire estate if they are both living. Otherwise it will be divided among your siblings (including half-siblings) and your surviving parent, if one parent has already died.
If there are no surviving parents, siblings, or descendants of siblings (nieces and nephews), then your surviving grandparents would receive your estate.
Single with children
If you are single and have children, then your entire estate generally will go to your children, in equal shares. If any child has died before you, and that child has any children, then his or her share will go to your grandchildren.
Married with no children
Depending on how your assets are owned when you die, your estate will either go entirely to your surviving spouse, or if the asset you own is held jointly with another person who is not your partner then the asset would go to that surviving joint owner of that asset.
If you are legally married but have not divorced and have formed a new de facto relationship, then the property will be shared by order of the court; or by agreement between the spouses; or in equal shares.
Married with children
If you are married with children, your entire estate will go to your surviving spouse (if all children are the children of your surviving spouse). Otherwise, your surviving spouse will receive up to one-half of the estate, with the remaining portion passing to your surviving children from another spouse or partner.
We recommend writing a will so your wishes can be carried out, otherwise the process becomes complex, slow and not necessarily what you may have wanted.
Wills & Estates, Kenny Spring Solicitors.
Please note the answers provided are for your general information only and we ask you to call our office on 02 6331 2911 to obtain detailed legal advice for your individual situation.