What Happens If I Die Without A Will?

by Jacqui Brauman

If you die without a Will, you die ‘intestate’. Each State has its own laws about intestacy, so if you die in Victoria without a Will, then the Administration and Probate Act is the piece of law that dictates what happens to your estate.

Die Without A Will

The laws in Victoria are changing on 1 November 2017. The laws of intestacy in Victoria have been outdated for a while, and particularly harsh on spouses of the deceased. The new laws try to fix this, and do in some scenarios, but also make it harder in others.

If I die without a Will, and I have a spouse …

If you die without a Will, and you have a spouse and no children, then your spouse is entitled to your entire estate.

Be ware that you haven’t had more than one spouse in the last 6 years, though, because they would share equally in your estate if you haven’t had a divorce from the first one!

If I die without a Will, and I have a spouse and children …

This is one of the biggest changes. Before 1 November 2017, if you died without a Will and had a spouse and children, then your estate would be split up amongst them.

After 1 November 2017, your spouse still gets your entire estate, if your children are children of you and your spouse.

If you children are from a former relationship (so they are step-children of your spouse), then your spouse gets the first $450,000 or so, and the rest is split 50/50 between your spouse and your children.

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If I die without a Will, and I don’t have a spouse or children …

If you die young, or if you die without a Will and haven’t had a relationship or had children, then there is a tiered system to work out who gets your estate. This is fairly similar whether you died before or after 1 November 2017.

Firstly, if would be split evenly between your parents. This is regardless of whether you prefer one parent over another, or you’re estranged from one or both of your parents.

Secondly, if your parents have both died, then it is split between your siblings evenly. If you were an only child, and your parents are both dead, then it is split between your aunts and uncles evenly, and if any of them have died then your cousins get the share that your uncle or aunt would have taken.

Your estate only goes to the government if you die without a Will and you don’t have a spouse, children, parents, brothers or sisters, nephews of nieces, aunts or uncles, or cousins … which would be very rare.

Non-estate assets

Remember that the intestacy laws only apply to your estate assets in the event that you die without a Will. You may have many other assets that are not covered by these laws, nor would they be covered by a Will. This is part of the reason why you should really get estate planning advice about a Will and your non-estate assets.

Here are a couple of articles about what are estate assets and what are not … 

Your Superannuation Is Not Your Asset

Non-Estate Assets