There are only two certainties in life, Death and Taxes… we can't help to prevent them but we can help you plan! The most important document in the event of your death is a Will.
Your Will provides for the distribution of the assets owned in your name at the time of your death to your beneficiaries. It also provides a framework for finalisation of funeral arrangements and other matters pending at the time of your death.
If you do not have a valid Will, then the laws of intestacy will apply.
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What is intestacy?
If no will is found, it is usually presumed the deceased died intestate, that is, without a will.
If you do die without a will, your estate does not automatically pass to the State (Crown), as is often assumed. The Succession Act 2006 (NSW), The Succession Act 1981 (QLD) sets out the order in which your eligible relatives will inherit your estate. It is only if you die without eligible relatives that your estate will pass to the State which must still observe certain considerations.
Making your will
Making a will is no different to making a business plan or travel plan- this ensures you make your own decisions about who will inherit your estate, rather than having the intestacy rules apply. You can choose the beneficiaries you like for example your favourite charity, a friend or a remote relative who may not be included under the intestacy rules. Properly constructing your will with clear instructions saves your family and loved ones a great deal of administrative work, anxiety and pain. It eliminates the need to make them go through the process of establishing themselves as eligible relatives.
Where property is owned jointly as tenants in common, the deceased owner's share will be distributed in accordance with their Will. Where property is owned as joint tenants, the deceased owner's share will be transferred to the surviving owner – with joint tenants the property is not part of the deceased's estate and therefore the Will does not apply.
You need to consider whether a basic Will is appropriate for your circumstances, or whether more comprehensive estate planning is required to provide a testamentary trust to ensure your beneficiaries interests in your estate are better protected from attacks from estranged spouses, creditors, bankruptcy trustee or perhaps even themselves due to current or possible future financial or behavioural problems.
We work with both NSW and QLD jurisdictions, please contact us for a free 1 hour consultation where we will evaluate your circumstances, provide you with a letter of advice and a costs agreement for your consideration.