If you die without a will, then you are said to have died “intestate”. In these circumstances the laws in Queensland have a formula to determine how your assets are distributed.
Relying on these laws is not a recommended succession plan.
The laws of intestacy are varying, depending on your marital status and if you have children. If you die without a Will, it is unlikely that your Estate will be distributed in line with your exact wishes.
Some examples of how the rules of intestacy work are as follows:-
- Married (or in a de-facto relationship) with no children – if you are married with no children then your surviving spouse will take the whole of your residuary estate. This includes de-facto spouses.
- Married (or in a de-facto relationship) with children – in these circumstances your spouse (including de-facto spouses) will receive $150,000 plus the household chattels plus 1/3 of the residuary estate. The remaining 2/3 is then split equally amongst your children (if more than one child) otherwise shared 1/2 to spouse and 1/2 to sole child.
- Single with no children – if you are single and childless, your parents will inherit your entire estate if they are both alive. This applies irrespective of your relationship with your parents. If you have no surviving parents, then your siblings will inherit your entire estate in equal parts. If one of your siblings has predeceased you and had children, that sibling’s share will go to their children.
- Single with children – if you are single with children, then your children will inherit your estate in equal shares. If one of your children has died before you and they have children, then his or her share will pass to those children (your grandchildren).
There are many circumstances where the above rules do not work well for families, such as where you are married with children with your home being your main asset. In these circumstances your spouse is faced with the prospect of potentially owning a house together with your children which could cause some unintended difficulty for the surviving spouse particularly if the children are infants.
In addition, there may be issues about who it is that will be responsible for administering your estate. In many circumstances it becomes necessary for the family to apply to the Court for Letters of Administration which is a formal process to appoint an administrator. This adds unnecessary expenses and stress for your loved ones.
The cost of putting in place a simple Will is relatively inexpensive given the complications that can arise post-death if the intestacy rules come into play, so to ensure that your assets go to who you wish to inherit them, we would recommend that have a current Will in place. Contact one of our team today to discuss your succession planning needs.