What Could Happen If You Die Without a Will

By Michael Farmer CFP

Many people in Australia die without having a Will in place, leaving their assets to “Lady Luck” on how your estate will be distributed.

The legal term for dying without a Will is intestate, and here are a few things that may happen once you are no longer alive without one.

1. You have left your family no control over your assets.

When a person dies intestate, the direct family is the first point of call regarding the distribution of assets. Each Australian state has a scheduled order of how assets are distributed to people you owe money to, your spouse, children, extended family, and other potential claimants. If there is no one to leave your estate to, it goes to the government.

The percentage share of the estate assets is not automatically split between your family. Any man and his dog can put up their hand and say they want a slice of the pie. It’s the court that will determine who gets what based upon what the judge sees fit.

2. Your asset may need to be sold.

If your beneficiaries are all looking for an equal share of the estate, without it being defined within the Will who gets what, you may find that your executor has to sell your estate assets to fund an equal split of their inheritances. If the kids are all looking for an equal share of the assets, without it being defined within the Will, they will have to sell to spilt the profits.

These assets may be more profitable and beneficial to your loved ones if they are passed on intact to the right people.

3. You have no control over who becomes Guardian of your children.

If a parent passes away while their children are under age 18, guardianship is automatically given to the surviving parent. If that person is not available, the court will appoint a guardian, either the state or an individual that may or may not be your choice to look after your kids.

4. Your family could find themselves in court.

When there is a pot of money and it’s up for grabs, who wouldn’t want to try to get some. Family differences and disputes about entitlements can bubble to the surface when it is all on the line. When a party takes the estate to court, it will likely be an expensive, time-consuming, and emotionally draining process where success is not guaranteed.

These are just a few of the problems that could arise from not having a valid Will in place.

You cannot predict when you will die. Accidents happen and medical issues can remain undetected until a catastrophic event occurs.

Life is unpredictable, and if the unexpected happens, your loved ones may not be taken care of and receive the legacy you hoped to provide them.

You need to have written instructions in place to ensure your estate has the best chance of going where you want it.

Having a Will provides you peace of mind that your assets will be distributed as you wish. It can also provide peace of mind to your beneficiaries, who will receive the estate assets they depend on for their financial well-being.

The right time to get a Will is now.

Don’t put it off; if you die or suffer mental incapacity, it’s too late.

Business Initiatives can help you with getting your Estate Plan in order. We can help you define your unique position, financial assets and ownership and take down your wishes to whom your assets are to be passed on.

We provide you with an Estate Report that you can keep for your own personal records, use it to show your loved ones your wishes upon death, and it can be used as solicitors notes to instruct your lawyer what you want to be done in drafting your Will.

We also work with a Law Firm to produce valid, legally binding Wills, making it as easy as possible to get all the documents in place so that you can have peace of mind that your loved ones will be looked after.     

The information contained in this article has been provided as general advice only. The contents have been prepared without taking account of your personal objectives, financial situation or needs. You should, before you make any decision regarding any information, strategies or products mentioned in this article, consult your own financial advisor to consider whether that is appropriate having regard to your own objectives, financial situation, and needs.