It’s not something many people like to think about, but dying without a valid Will can have a significant impact on those left behind. Passing away without a Will is termed ‘dying intestate’, which can create a lot of challenges for loved ones and family members.
Intestacy also applies if a Will isn’t deemed valid. This can occur if there are concerns of fraud, coercive pressures or if the person who passed away wasn’t deemed to have the capacity to write their Will.
The costs of dying without a Will
If you pass away without a Will, and have significant assets that need to be administered, this can result in lengthy Court processes or worse, legal battles for your family or next of kin. To begin with, administering the estate will require a specific Application to the Court. Secondly, your estate will be distributed pursuant to the legislation, not pursuant to your wishes. There are also the emotional costs of added stress on spouses, partners and/or family members who are already grieving your loss.
The intestacy process
Intestacy can complicate the process of estate administration, requiring Letters of Administration to be granted by the Court. Without doing so, assets may not be able to be released by financial institutions, insurers or other third parties. It can result in many complexities and requirements needing to be fulfilled that would not be associated with an estate administration where a valid Will was in place. Furthermore, the courts have a designated order for choosing how intestate estates are distributed, and to whom. This may not correspond with how you would choose your life assets to be allocated.
A final word on not having a Will in place
Considering the needs of those left behind is often a strong motivating factor when it comes to creating a Will.
Dying without a valid Will can result in assets being distributed in a manner that does not align with your wishes, and sometimes in surprising ways. Property, businesses and other assets may be awarded to a next of kin the court deems suitable, rather than someone you wanted them to go to. Your estate may be contested, resulting in high costs and delays. There have even been instances where estranged relatives have benefited from the estate, because there was no Will.
Talk to our team about how we can help ensure that your final wishes are carried out, in a way that honours what you actually would like to see happen.