Until recently, estates of those who hadn’t left Wills were distributed between the spouse and their children. However, under the recent legislation, children will not automatically be included in the inheritance unless they are from a previous relationship or the deceased is not survived by a spouse. This is due to the fact that any children from the current relationship are considered to still have an attachment to the estate via the surviving spouse.
Disputes over the estate of a late partner or family member can worsen an already traumatic and upsetting experience. On average in New South Wales, 46% of people have not prepared Wills, which means that the distribution of their estate will be conducted via the Intestacy Laws enacted by the State Government. Intestacy is the default method of distributing someone’s estate; preferably people should have a valid Will in place.
These laws have been designed to simplify the complicated legal process involving estates left without a Will; and also to defuse any emotionally-charged dispute or conflict over the division of the estate. They also reflect the community attitudes to the idea of who should benefit, as three quarters of those with spouses and children traditionally designate the whole estate to the spouse alone.
The other key change to intestacy law is the inclusion of first cousins as eligible heirs to the estates of those who die without leaving Wills.
The new order of entitlements runs in the following order:
- Aunts & Uncles
- First cousins
Although the recent changes to intestacy laws simplify some of the processes related to dividing an estate, ideally everyone should have their own Will drafted. This ensures that your desires for the division of your estate are carried out, and can prevent much of the upset and tension that exists when an estate is in contention. A properly drafted Will ensures that all of your estate – belongings, savings, investments etc. – are divided or sorted the way that you would like, and will also lessen confusion for your grieving family and friends. The other important thing to remember is that a Will should be updated regularly to reflect your current situation or intentions.
Here at The Quinn Group we can help you with drafting, preparing and executing your Will. For this, or any more information regarding the new legislation or any Wills and Estate matter, submit an online enquiry or call us on 1300 QUINNS (784 667) or on +61 2 9223 9266 to book an appointment.