Briefly, if you pass away intestate, that is, you haven’t left a Will, your surviving spouse (which could be your de facto or domestic partner) will receive the whole estate if there are no children or the children are your spouse’s. But if there are children by another relationship, for example, an ex-spouse or ex-domestic partner, the estate will be divided between the spouse and all the children according to a legal formula.
If there is no legal spouse or domestic partner or any direct descendants, a deceased’s parents will receive the whole estate; otherwise, it goes to brothers and sisters or other relatives, up to and including first cousins.
If there are no entitled relatives, the estate goes to the state government.
Even if you are married with dependants, you need a will. If a husband and wife should be killed together, in a car accident for instance, the older person will normally be presumed to have died first. The younger person might then have inherited assets from their spouse – even though they are by then dead – and if they died intestate, that is had not made a will, the assets would be distributed under the new legal formula, regardless of what the person might have wished.
Reproduced with the permission of the Law Society of New South Wales.
For more information concerning Wills and Estate Planning, contact the experienced team at Rockliffs Lawyers today.