Do you know what happens if you die without a Will?

If you die without a will, you will have died “intestate”.  The distribution of your estate will be in accordance with the rules set out in the Queensland Succession Act 1981 (assuming you lived and owned assets in Queensland). 

Straight away, the administration of the estate is made more difficult because strictly speaking, no-one has authority to administer the estate until appointed by the Court.  Alternatively, where there is a will, the executor’s authority to act comes from the will itself.  Accordingly, the expense of obtaining a Grant of Letters of Administration from the Court may need to be incurred, whereas this may not have been necessary if a will had been made.

Secondly, the distribution may not be as clear cut as you think.  Some clients tell me all their assets are held jointly with their spouse so there’s no need for a will.  That may be the case if one of you dies, but what happens if you both die together?  The law assumes that the younger survived the older for one day and so the joint assets would pass under the younger’s estate to their family members instead of being split between both of your families which may have been intended. 

A further issue is that where there are children, not all assets pass to the spouse.  The children will take a share of the estate and their share will be held on trust until they turn 18.  This could cause some unintended difficulty for the surviving spouse.  Usually, everything is left to the spouse in the first instance and only to the children on the death of the second spouse.  Further, the age of 18 is usually increased under the will to ensure a greater maturity when a child receives an inheritance.

A final complication arises where land is held in different states of Australia – the intestacy rules can differ slightly from state to state and therefore the beneficiaries of one parcel of land may be different to another.

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.  Call us today to arrange your estate plans and ensure that your final wishes are put into place.


This information is provided as a general guide only and should not be used or relied upon by any person without obtaining legal advice in relation to their own circumstances.