Who is entitled to an estate where there is no will?

If a person dies without making a will, they are said to be ‘intestate’.   If this happens, provisions in the Succession Act 2006 determine who is entitled to the person’s possessions after they die (known as the deceased person’s ‘estate’).

The person first entitled to the estate will be the spouse of the deceased, including a de facto spouse.  If there is no spouse, the deceased’s ‘issue’ will inherit. This means the deceased person’s children or, if those children have already died, the deceased person’s grandchildren or further descendants.   Special rules apply where the deceased leaves a spouse and children of a prior relationship, or if there are multiple spouses.

If an intestate person dies without a spouse or children, their parents will be entitled to their estate or, if there are no surviving parents, their brothers and sisters.  If there are no parents or siblings alive to inherit,  the estate will pass to any surviving grandparents or, failing that, to the Uncles and Aunts of the deceased or their children.

If no one in the above categories survives the deceased, the state is entitled to all of the person’s assets, however there is a process whereby someone can apply to the state for provision to be made for them.

It is vitally important for people without a spouse or children or for those who are living in blended families to prepare a will to deal effectively with their estate.  For many in these circumstances, a distribution under the statutory order for intestacy will not be satisfactory, resulting in further distress and, possibly, litigation among surviving family members.

If you would like advice about preparing a will or about administering an intestate estate, contact Althea at Hornsby Wills and Probate.  Ph: 0410 485 277.  Email: althea@hornsbywillsandprobate.com.au

What should I expect from a solicitor who is preparing my will?

It can seem difficult to choose the right solicitor to assist you with your estate planning.  You need someone who has specific knowledge of the wills and estates area to prepare your will because it is easy for potential problems to be overlooked, especially if the solicitor is rushed with other work!

A solicitor who is knowledgeable about wills and estates will review your assets and family structure to identify, and take steps to avoid, any problems arising for your loved ones after you pass away.   This includes simple matters such as making sure you have nominated a beneficiary for your superannuation entitlements but can also include more complicated issues such as identifying potential family provision claims or implementing a succession plan for your family business.

Your solicitor should take the time to understand your position and your priorities to ensure that your estate has the best chance of being dealt with in the way that you wish.  They must then ensure that your documents are prepared and signed correctly and that appropriate arrangements are made to store them where your family can locate them at the right time.

At Hornsby Wills and Probate, our focus is on wills and estates.  We do not work in competing practice areas so we can give our wills and estates clients our full attention.  All work is undertaken directly by our principal solicitor, Althea Willis, so you may be assured that you are dealing with someone with an appropriate level of knowledge and experience. Contact Althea today to make an appointment on 0410 485 277 or althea@hornsbywillsandprobate.com.au

Your Privacy

A lot of personal information needs to be collected as part of the estate planning process.  Hornsby Wills and Probate takes your privacy seriously and has a documented privacy policy dealing with how your personal information will be treated.

Procedures taken to protect your privacy include:

  1. Proper and prompt filing of all documents.
  2. Keeping files in locked filing cabinets.
  3. Shredding any papers containing personal information prior to disposal.
  4. Ensuring that information held on our computer systems is adequately protected by:
    1. Taking advice from cyber security experts Vertex Technologies Pty Ltd (vertextech.com.au) to protect data held on our office computers.
    2. Utilizing cloud data storage only via our practice management system provider LEAP (https://www.leap.com.au/information-security-policy).
  5. Use of appropriate confidentiality agreements.
  6. Keeping an up to date Privacy Policy and, where required, ensuring adequate training is provided on the same.

Our full privacy policy is available on request.

If you have questions about how we deal with your personal information, please contact Althea on 0410 485 277 or althea@hornsbywillsandprobate.com.au

If compliance with the Privacy Act 1988 is of concern to you or your business, you can contact us for advice.   We can assist with drafting, implementing and auditing privacy procedures as well as dealing with breaches and complaints.