What happens if you die without a will?

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What happens if you die without a will?

If a person dies without a will, we say that they have died intestate.  When this happens, there are laws in each state and territory which provide a clear order of operations for inheritance.  This is to ensure that descendants and partner get the assets to which they are entitled.

The first people to be considered after a person has died are the creditors.  All debts should be repaid including:

  • Funeral expenses
  • Taxes
  • Any outstanding legal expenses or administrative expenses

Once the creditors have been paid, the assets will be divided through a number of levels starting with the deceased’s spouse and ending up with distant relatives.

So that the assets can be distributed, a person must be appointed as the administrator of the estate.  They will need to apply for a grant of administration from the courts.  This is really a notice which lets them withdraw the deceased’s funds from banks, pay back creditors and manage the finances as needed.

Before a grant of administration can be applied for, the following tasks must be done:

  • Do a thorough search for the will
  • Get the death certificate
  • Lay out who is entitled to what
  • Advertise your intention to apply for a grant of administration
  • File the necessary paper work

Remember that applying for a grant of administration can be a long and costly process which will lead to a delay in distributing the assets of the estate.  At the end of the day, it is always better to have a will.

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