After years of hard work, accumulating wealth and paying off debt, many people do not have a will. In fact, this is the case with 47 per cent of adult Australians. Many of the remaining 53 per cent are not aware that their existing wills need updating, as they have become out-of-date and inappropriate for their current circumstances. Rod Cunich of Slater & Gordon explains what happens to your money if you have no will or your will is out-of-date.
Mary is an only child who left home at 16 years of age because of abusive parents. She hasn’t spoken to her parents since. After putting herself through university and commencing a career Mary married Joe, a successful young lawyer and one of four children with whom he shares a close bond. In time Mary became part of Joe’s extended family. After eight years of marriage, Mary and Joe were tragically killed in a car accident. Neither of them had a will. Joe, being the older of the two, was deemed to have died first and his wealth notionally passed to Mary. Under the intestacy laws all of Mary’s acquired wealth then passed to her estranged parents—the last people on earth she would have wished to leave her estate.
Do you know?…
If you have no will your assets will be distributed in accordance with a statutory formula regardless of your wishes. Under succession laws former spouses, de factos and in some cases even short-term partners may end up with your estate.
The only things that are certain if you die without a will are:
- the distribution of your estate will be unnecessarily delayed
- extra costs will be incurred because an application will have to be made to the courts to appoint an administrator to your estate
- you will not get to choose who manages your estate
- you will not get to select who receives your property.
Your family will be left with the additional stress of the uncertainty and the problems associated with managing your affairs when they are already suffering the grief of their loss. It’s not a great legacy to leave behind.
So you tell me, who will get your money? You can prepare a current will ensuring your estate is controlled by someone you trust and that the right assets go to the right people with the minimum of fuss, or you can neglect your will and leave it all in the lap of the gods.
To find out more and to contact your local Slater & Gordon succession planning lawyer please call 1800 555 777.