A Will is a legal document that clearly sets out your wishes for the distribution of your assets after your death. Having a clear, legally valid and up-to-date Will is the best way to help ensure that your assets are protected and distributed according to your wishes.
Studies show that on average 45% of Australians do not have a current Will. If you die without a Will no-one knows who you wanted as your beneficiaries, or who you wanted as your executor (the person or organisation you nominate to administer your estate upon your death). Your assets will be distributed according to a set formula with certain relatives receiving a defined percentage of your assets, despite what you may have wished.
What if I die without a Will?
If you die without a Will you are said to die intestate. The word “intestate” is derived from the Latin word “intestatus” meaning a person who dies without a Will. If you die with a fully valid Will you are said to die testate.
Intestacy may occur not only where a person fails to make a Will but also for other reasons such as:
- the Will fails to properly dispose of all their assets
- the Will is not valid because it has not been signed and witnessed according to the law
- the person did not have mental capacity to make a Will
- the Will has been poorly drafted and the legal rules of construction have not been followed.
Sometimes a person may die partly testate and partly intestate. This occurs where part of the Will is valid but part is invalid. This may result in even more inconvenience, delay and expense than administering a full intestate estate.