When a loved one passes away, they should ideally have a clear and recently updated will that sets out exactly how their estate should be divided up. However, as wills and estates law experts, we sadly often have to help the bereaved deal with the complexities surrounding loved ones who died intestate.
When a person dies intestate, it means that they died without a will. This means there is a lack of clarity as to how their estate should be divided up among loved ones. In such cases, there are legislated processes that must be followed.
These legislated processes can be somewhat complex, so it is strongly advised that you seek the help of a lawyer to help you navigate the process.
Whoever is deemed the person with the greatest entitlement to the estate of the deceased – such as a surviving spouse or child – will need to apply to the Supreme Court for something called “Letters of Administration”.
This document entitles the applicant to administer the estate in the case of an intestate death.
The appointed administrator will need to confirm that surviving relatives are entitled to a share of the deceased’s estate in accordance with intestacy rules as laid out in the relevant legislation.
These rules differ slightly from state to state in Australia. However, in general, they favour the surviving partner first and foremost, followed by the children of the deceased, followed by other family members, and if there are no surviving relatives, the state government.
This job can be complex and time-consuming. Moreover, it can carry consequences for which the administrator could be held personally liable should there be a discrepancy or error. It is therefore recommended that an experienced lawyer be consulted throughout this process.
Research And Investigation
Intestacy rules can be complex and numerous. They depend on a number of factors and “if statements” to determine who will inherit what, and it differs depending on location.
In cases where surviving family members are not immediately clear and apparent, genealogical research and investigations might need to be undertaken in order to determine who might be entitled to a share in the estate. This might involve tracing the movements and relationships of family members over the years.
Understandably, this can be quite a lengthy and possibly expensive process in complex cases. Gathering evidence is important in order to ensure that a fair and just administration of the estate takes place.
To ensure that the estate of a deceased loved one is administered correctly in the absence of a will, contact us at Rafton Family Lawyers today. As experts in wills and estates law, we will help ease the burden of managing an intestate death.