When someone dies without writing a Will, their estate is shared out following the rules of Intestacy.
What is Intestacy?
When you die without writing a Will, it means you have died intestate. The Rules of Intestacy vary slightly between each state and territory, but ultimately it is a formula that determines how your estate will be divided by your next of kin.
Here, we’ll cover what this means and who can inherit when there isn’t a valid Will in place. It can be a complicated process, and many people can find themselves struggling to get through settling your affairs, receiving their share of your estate, or just looking after your best wishes when you're gone. For families, it can be a huge source of stress at an already difficult time. This is what may happen if you aren't looking after your affairs now.
Basically, the state will divide your assets without a Will
And that division won't happen according to any plan that you might have wanted to make. When you die without a Will, your immediate family - spouse, children etc - will receive an even share of whatever assets you have to distribute, without a larger game plan. Everyone will have an equal claim to anything you leave behind. In some cases, this can work out fine; if you don't have a complex situation, the split may be just what you would have wanted.
This can become an issue if you have dependants that require ongoing care or children, as their guardianship will be determined by the state – who will look for the next immediately available guardian (without consideration for your final wishes).
If you don't have a Will in place, it makes things complicated
In the event that you pass away, your family should be able to turn to a clear legal will that should allow them to make settling your affairs a clean and simple matter with no additional emotional strain.
But without that Will, it just won't be possible. In some cases this can involve going through the court system which can be a long and expensive process. The legal mess it can create with the division being disputed, non-immediate beneficiaries trying to stand up for a share they may or may not be entitled to and people second guessing what you would or wouldn't have wanted, becomes a serious issue. The stress this can place on family members is enormous, particularly while they're already grieving.
There won't be a clear guide to settling everything
When you die without a Will, you don't leave the right information that can help any outstanding debts, concerns or agreements to be settled in the easiest and most streamlined way possible, meaning that everything can take far longer and be more complex than necessary.
By writing your Will, you can appoint an Executor who will understand your values, beliefs and situation to streamline this process and ensure your final wishes are accurately followed.
Ultimately, you won't be leaving things sorted
If you're planning for your future, you should be trying to tick off everything on your list. Yes, that does include your savings and retirement plans. Yes, it should include your bucket list, and everything you want to do and see and experience in your life. But it should also include a Will that protects your family, saves them unnecessary stress and worry, and keeps things sorted and organised in the right way.
Disclaimer: The content of this blog is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. This blog should not be relied upon as legal, financial, accounting or tax advice