What happens if you die without a Will?

Dec 5, 2022 | Publication | 0 comments

Approximately half of Australians do not have a Will, according to the NSW Trustee & Guardian.  This figure is almost certainly an underestimation.  A more realistic figure is that 70% of Australians do not have a Will.

There are various consequences of not having a Will, including that a person’s estate may end up being received by unintended beneficiaries.  Other consequences include that the estate may be controlled by an unintended person, close relatives may be inadequately catered for, legal disputes may arise as to who should inherit, unintended tax consequences may eventuate, and additional time and costs will almost certainly be involved in administering a deceased estate where there is no Will.

If a person dies without a Will, and does not leave a spouse or children, there are rules that set out who is to inherit.  As a general proposition, the following inherit in the order set out below:

  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Grandparents
  • Uncles and aunts
  • Next of kin
  • The Crown

Different states and territories of Australia have different rules in relation to who inherits.

In New South Wales, the Succession Act 2006 sets out the law in relation to intestacy.

In New South Wales, a “spouse of an intestate” person is defined as a person:

  • Who was married to the intestate immediately before the intestate’s death; or
  • Who was a party to a domestic partnership with the intestate immediately before the intestate’s death.

The law in relation to succession is complex and it is important to obtain legal advice based on your individual circumstances. 

The information in this publication is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. The information therefore does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, we do not guarantee that the information in this publication is accurate at the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. We are not responsible for the information of any source to which a link is provided or reference is made and exclude all liability in connection with use of these sources. If you do not wish to receive newsletters from us, please let us know.

Latest Insights

How Vicissitudes Impact Future Economic Loss in Legal Cases

When it comes to calculating future economic loss in legal cases, one concept that often arises is "vicissitudes." But what exactly are vicissitudes, and how do they affect the compensation awarded to plaintiffs? In this article, we'll delve into the definition of...

Can you still make a claim?

Many claims have limitation periods. A limitation period is a set time frame within which an aggrieved person must commence proceedings in a Court. These limitation periods generally commence from the date of the injury and/or incident. Some claims however, such as...

Teacher convicted for failing to report sexual abuse of a child

Teacher, Mr Webb of Trinity College Perth, was unsuccessful in his appeal against his conviction of failing to report sexual abuse of a child in a decision delivered on 13 October 2021. In April 2017, a group of boys from the school went on a school rugby trip to...

Annual Dinner – Parramatta & District Regional Law Society

Western Sydney's legal profession gathered for the Annual Dinner of the Parramatta & District Regional Law Society at CommBank Stadium! We are particularly grateful to Dr Hugh McDermott MP, Parliamentary Secretary to the Attorney General, Senior Vice...

What compensation can I get if I have been injured at work?

If you have a work-related injury or illness, you may be able to claim compensation for lost income, medical expenses, travel expenses, domestic assistance, pain and suffering and permanent impairment. All employers are required to have workers compensation insurance...

Court makes provision for son left out of father’s Will

The recent Supreme Court of New South Wales decision of Rathswohl v Court  NSWSC 356, involved 3 siblings disputing their entitlements to their late father’s estate. The defendant, Yvette, claimed she cared for her father for the last 18 months before he...

If I die without a Will what can happen?

If you die without a Will there can be many unintended consequences. Some of these consequences may be: A person who you do not intend could control your estate.  This could even be someone you do not know.  An executor is a person who controls an estate...