Death isn’t a topic anyone likes to dwell on, but the consequences of dying without a will can be far reaching and chaotic for those left behind. Making a valid will can be a confronting task, not least because it brings to mind the fact of our own mortality. But it’s a task that is vital in ensuring your wishes are carried out and that your loved ones are taken care of in the long run.
Dying without a valid will, or dying ‘intestate’, means your assets will be distributed by the government according to a predetermined formula – despite what you might have wanted. In each state and territory of Australia there is legislation defining a person’s next of kin and determining what portion of the estate they inherit.
Ideally a will should represent a person’s wishes as they stood at the time of death. Given how often your life can change, it isn’t enough to make one will and expect it to last your lifetime. The consequences of dying with an incomplete or only partly valid will can, in many cases, be even more complex than dying completely intestate.
This is especially true if you have a complex family situation. If you are divorced, remarried, or have children from more than one relationship, dying without a will is going to leave a complicated mess behind for your family to clean up.
For example, if you have children or dependents, it is especially important to know where they stand should you die without a will. In New South Wales, changes to legislation in 2010 stated that if a person dies leaving a spouse or partner and children of that relationship then the entire estate goes to the spouse or partner and the children get nothing. That same legislation also introduced the concept of ‘multiple spouses’, to better protect de facto and same sex relationships, and cover the possibility that the deceased may have otherwise have been involved with more than one person.
An issue many families come up against when a loved one dies is that their will was not comprehensive enough. Many people believe making a will to be as easy as grabbing a will kit at the local newsagents. But a simple will won’t take into consideration more complex assets like superannuation, family trusts or jointly held assets.
The consequences of dying without a will are often far reaching and chaotic for those left behind. Ensuring your will is comprehensive and up to date goes a long way to ensuring your loved ones aren’t burdened with extra troubles during an already difficult time. See more information about planning an estate and how we can help you. Contact The Quinn Group on 02 9223 9166, or make an online enquiry.