What Happens If I Don’t Have A Will?

by | Mar 2, 2023 | Family Law, Probate, Wills, Wills & Estates Probate, Wills and Estates

As family law practitioners, one of the things that we see all too often is people passing away without drawing up proper wills. Without a will, it can be difficult to determine how your assets should be divided up among your heirs. 

It means that your assets will be divided according to what the law says even if that isn’t what you actually wanted.

This can cause a lot of pain and heartache among the bereaved and can be the cause of much conflict among those left behind. It could result in a litany of unpleasantness and legal battles, leaving your family to contest the way the estate was divided up.

With that in mind, let us review what happens if you pass away without a will.

Intestacy Rules Will Apply

Dying intestate is a legal term for dying without a will or otherwise dying with a will that does not adequately address your estate. Under these circumstances, your assets will be divided according to the rules of intestacy as determined by law. These rules determine, in order of priority, who should get what assets from your estate. 

Although these priorities differ slightly from state to state in Australia, most tend to prioritise the spouse or partner – if there is one – and then any potential children. Thereafter, grandchildren and other extended family members will become heirs.

These intestacy rules may not be to your liking if you would prefer your assets to be divided up and given to specific individuals. 

The Government Gets A Cut

If you do not have surviving relatives, a number of your assets may go to the government. However, even if you do have surviving relatives, they can expect to pay more revenue to the government in the form of taxes and duties, as well as legal fees.

Your Estate Becomes Fair Game

When you pass away without a will in place, every potential creditor, business partner, friend, or family member who thinks they should have a piece of the pie can lay claim to what they perceive as their fair share of the estate. This can and often does lead to lengthy and expensive court battles, which could drain your estate of its funds before anything can be passed on to the people to whom you would most like your assets to go. 

To avoid intestacy, everyone over 18 should have a will and update it whenever their circumstances change. Speak to us at Rafton Family Lawyers to get help setting up your will today.