If you die without a Will or if your Will is not valid, then you are said to have died ‘intestate‘ and your assets will be distributed according to a legal formula set out in the Succession Act.

It is not possible to know with any certainty who would receive your estate or in what proportions as it will depend on your circumstances at the time of your death.

It will be up to your family members or close friends to take steps to administer your estate. What is involved will vary depending on what assets you owned, whether you had any debts, and your family situation.

For example, if you pass away leaving assets of significance (such as a house or a large bank account) then your next of kin will need to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration. Letters of Administration is a court order made by the Supreme Court of New South Wales which appoints a person to be the administrator of an estate. The administrator is responsible for distributing the assets of the deceased person who died without a valid Will in accordance with the predetermined legal formula.

On the other hand, if you pass away and only leave nominal assets, then your next of kin will need to close all of your accounts and distribute the funds (if any) in accordance with the predetermined formula.

Administering the estate

Administering the estate of a deceased person who died without a will can be complicated for the following reasons:

  1. It can be more costly to administer an estate where there is no Will.
  2. It can take longer to administer an estate where there is no Will.
  3. Your estate may pass to person(s) that you would not have chosen in proportions that you may not have chosen.
  4. You may have wished for certain persons or charities to benefit from your estate but if you do not leave a Will then they will likely miss out.

There are many unintended consequences that can result from not having a Will.

At Turner Freeman, we recommend that every person has a valid and up to date Will to provide certainty and peace of mind for their family and loved ones.

Call Turner Freeman today to arrange a consultation with one of our experienced Wills & Estates lawyers.