If you pass away and do not have a Will in place, this is called dying ‘intestate’.
In this situation, the Administration Act 1969 comes into play and dictates how the next steps are undertaken.
Your next of kin will need to apply to the court using a document called ‘Letters of Administration’ and ask to be the administrator of your estate (be the person who deals with your assets and liabilities). Because you have not made any wishes in a Will, you do not get to decide who makes this application to the court.
Once an administrator is appointed, the Administration Act 1969 dictates who will benefit from your personal chattels and the rest of your estate and how much they will receive. There are provisions in the Administration Act 1969 for benefitting your husband, wife, civil union partner, or surviving de facto partner, your children, your parents, siblings and even aunties and uncles in some cases.
Dying without a Will therefore means you have no control over who your assets are left to. This will be determined by the law.
On a side note, many people think that a really old Will that may have been fit for purpose in the past is now irrelevant and is no longer their current Will and this is untrue. When you die, the Will that is administered is the last Will in place at that time – even if it is a historic Will that was made when your circumstances were different! For this reason, we recommend you review your Will every 4-5 years or when you have a significant life event (i.e. birth of a child, change in relationship status, death of a loved one).
If you are unsure and would like a review of your circumstances or to update and existing Will, get in touch with one of our team.