What happens if you don’t have a valid will? If you die without a will, you are said to have died intestate. In that case, in Queensland, the laws of intestacy apply.
Your estate is divided according to a formula and goes to your next of kin. This may be your spouse, de facto and children / grandchildren. If there is no spouse or children, then the estate will be divided between other family members. This may include parents, brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, then grandparents, then uncles, aunts and cousins.
‘Next of kin’ does not include in-laws, a step-parent, a mother-in-law or a father-in-law.
The ONLY way to ensure your estate goes to the people you want to benefit, is to make a valid Will. You need to keep it up to date. Everyone over 18 should have a will.
By making a Will now, you can prevent considerable confusion and possibly upset, in the future.
You might think, “it doesn’t matter, I want my estate to go to my spouse and kids anyway.” But, those wishes might change over the years for many reasons. With a valid will, you have control over not only who benefits from your estate, but how much each beneficiary receives. Without a will, who gets a share and how much they get is set out in the laws of intestacy and cannot be altered.
If you die without a will, someone in the family has to apply for letters of administration in order to deal with your assets. If you have a will, YOU decide who has the job of sorting out the will.
Some other common myths:
If I don’t have any assets, why do I need a will?
Your estate might be worth more than you thought, with things like superannuation. Just because you don’t have much now, doesn’t mean that will still be the case when you die. You might win lotto!
Can’t I just get a DIY will?
Yes, you can, but it may not be prepared properly or witnessed correctly. This can result in a Will being challenged in court due to confusion about your wishes. This ends up costing a lot in legal fees.
I’ll be gone, so it won’t matter to me.
Again, this is correct, but it WILL worry your next of kin. By taking time to make a valid Will (usually no more than an hour) you can save your next of kin uncertainty and stress. You will also save on the extra legal costs that can potentially be involved to finalise an estate where a person has died without a Will.
Making a Valid Will is expensive.
Our fees are competitive. The Public Trustee can make your valid Will for free.
I made my Will years ago, and it’s still OK.
Again, that could be true but you should make sure. Life events such as divorce, birth of a child, marriage, entering a defacto relationship, death of a spouse or partner, death of the executor, or death of beneficiary, can all affect your Will.
It is true that you don’t have to update your will every time you buy and sell a major asset.
Updating a will is usually very quick and easy.