07 Dec If I die without a will, who gets my assets?
When someone dies without a will, he or she dies ‘intestate’. In each state, the law has arrangements for this which detail who gets what from the deceased’s estate and how this process is to be administered. To do this, an administrator will be appointed to dispose of the estate. It is an executor where there is a will.
The most obvious problem with this situation is that you have no say whatsoever; you don’t get to choose who gets what, you don’t get to make a unique statement to those you love and care about and you don’t get any say over who administers your estate and someone who you don’t want to benefit financially from your death does.
Furthermore, each state has slightly different rules about how your estate should be administered if you die without a will and this is a problem if you have assets in different states.
In each state, however, the law’s formula for distributing your assets has a clear hierarchy starting with the immediate family; surviving spouse and/or children, followed by the nearest living relatives and then, if there are none, the government. It may leave out friends or other loved ones you care about, (or charities) and may be completely contrary to what you want.
With the emergence of ‘blended families’ there is even more opportunity for angst and a failure to benefit those you wish or ought to. This may result in significant legal fees being incurred in claims on your assets (or defending such a claim); all of which reduces what is available for those entitled (or should have been named as being entitled).
Dying intestate often leaves families confused and can lead to unnecessary conflict at a very emotional and vulnerable time for all concerned. Your loved ones will be left second¬ guessing each other about your intentions and each may have very different ideas about what they think you wanted and what they feel they each deserve.
The whole process is more time consuming and expensive than if you had left them a valid will.
Even though the law provides a list of beneficiaries, that will not avoid any of these pitfalls. Only you can do that by writing a valid will that clearly states your intentions.
Do you need to update your Will and have questions relating to this? Contact Solari and Stock Wills and Estates Team on 8525 2700 to make an appointment, or click here to request an appointment.