What Happens if you Die without a Valid Will?

It’s essential to seek help from a lawyer when preparing your Will to ensure your wishes are carried out and your family is protected.
It’s essential to seek help from a lawyer when preparing your Will to ensure your wishes are carried out and your family is protected.

While most people agree that preparing a Will is important in order to protect your loved ones in the unexpected event of your death, studies show that on average, 45% of Australians do not have a current Will.

Dying without a valid Will is known as dying ‘intestate’ or leaving what is known as “intestacy” which can place your family’s future at risk.

Intestacy can arise:

  • when a person dies without a valid Will; or
  • if the deceased leaves a Will with mistakes which does not effectively dispose of all their estate.

What Happens to my Assets if I don’t have a Will?

In the event of your death without a valid Will, the distribution of your estate is determined by legislation, which declares that your closest relatives by law will receive a fixed percentage of your assets – despite what you may have intended.

You also increase the chance of other people making claims to your assets. Having a Will gives you the opportunity to put in place protective structures, such as a Will with a Testamentary Discretionary Trust. This minimises the risk of third parties gaining access to your estate after you’re gone.

How do I Protect my Family from Intestacy?

In many cases, intestacy leads to bitter and costly disputes over inheritances that inevitably reduce the size of the estate. If you pass away without a Will, the matter of the legal ownership of your assets can become a distressing burden for loved ones who are dealing with grief and loss.

Having a clear, legally valid and up-to-date Will is the best way make sure your family is protected in the event of your passing, and your assets are allocated according to your wishes.

Considerations for Preparing your Will

A Will is a legal document that clearly sets out your wishes for the distribution of your assets upon your death. It should include details of your:

  • Executor – the individual or group who you would like to nominate to administer your estate.
  • Beneficiaries – the people you choose to leave your assets to such as your spouse, de facto partner or children.

Preparing a Will can be a complex matter and requires careful planning and understanding. Your Will is probably the most important document you’ll ever sign, so it’s crucial that you seek professional advice from an experienced lawyer when drafting your Will. Your lawyer can explain areas of your Will that may be confusing or misinterpreted, ensuring your wishes are carried out to their full extent. Having a lawyer by your side certifies there’s no room for errors and your family is completely protected.

At Le Brun & Associates, we understand that writing your Will is an extremely important process contributing to your family’s livelihood. That’s why we provide a free 30-minute consultation to discuss the best options for you and your beneficiaries. If you need caring, compassionate advice or more information on preparing your Will, contact us today.