When someone dies without a will, it is called ‘dying intestate’. In the absence of a valid will, the law decides who gets your assets, who will look after your minor children (as guardians) and your individual wishes or personal situation will not be taken into account – the same laws apply to everyone who dies without a valid will. It can be difficult to work out who should apply for permission to deal with a deceased person’s estate without a will.
For married couples, the law will most likely see your husband or wife inherit your estate, however for domestic or de facto relationships (including same-sex couples) you would need to have lived in a domestic or de facto relationship with your partner for two years or have a child together before your partner can benefit from your estate if you die without a will.
The safest way to make sure your estate goes to those you wish, and to ensure your partner gets what you want them to inherit from your estate is to make a valid will.
What about your children and those who relied upon you?
If you have children or other family members who depend on you financially, it is vital you have a valid will to record your wishes.
Ease the stress and pain
Losing a loved one is an incredibly difficult and sad time. During this time of grief, the last thing your family and loved ones should have to endure is sorting everything out when you die in the absence of a will.
A simple, valid will that sets out your wishes can alleviate a great deal of stress on those left behind.
What is a ‘simple will’?
Your will does not need to be a complex and lengthy document, you don’t need to describe all of your assets in detail or pick out specific ‘bequests’ to specific people. Your will can simply set out:
who you wish to have your money, real property (such as your home or investment property) and possessions when you die (collectively known as your ‘estate’)
the person(s) you wish to be responsible for organising your estate and carrying out the instructions set out in your will (the ‘executor’)
if you have minor children, who you wish to appoint as guardian(s) of your children.
You may also include in your will any other wishes you may have, such as instructions for your burial or cremation (and location).
What is a ‘legally valid’ will?
A will is legally valid as long as the will:
accurately describes how your estate is to be distributed upon your death
is signed and dated by you in the presence of two independent adult witnesses who also sign the will (witnesses who are not beneficiaries in your will)
was made when you were mentally fit to make decisions on your own and when you were under no pressure or influence as to who should benefit under your will.
How to make a valid will
We can assist you with the preparation of a simple will to protect your loved ones. We can also prepare the appropriate power of attorney specific to your circumstances as required.
Most important is that you don’t put it off – it is vital that what you leave behind is passed to the people you intended.
General Advice Warning
The information in this website is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be legal advice, the content is general in nature and as such it does not take into account your personal circumstances. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs and seek professional advice specific to your personal circumstances.