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As part of our service at Harris Tate, we produce a range of legal articles that are published in various media, designed to alert our clients to legal developments that may affect them.

Our legal articles are written by lawyers and legal executives and discuss legal aspects relating to industries, businesses and individuals as well as focusing on everyday legal topics of interest.  These articles provide information to help educate our clients on different topics and current events in the law.  They may raise additional questions.  Please do not hesitate to contact us with your questions or to discuss your individual situation in more detail.

What happens if you die without a Will?

17 May 2019

Dying intestate, that is without a Will, can leave family members in a tricky situation.

Although prescribed laws specify how an intestate estate is to be administered, it may not be what you would want for your loved ones. In particular, if you are survived by a spouse and children, your children could end up with just as much or more of your estate funds than your spouse.  Of course, there are other laws which allow a spouse to contest the prescribed intestacy laws, but the complexity and significant costs to do this could easily be avoided if a will had been put in place.

Even if a will has been put in place it is important to review it every two to five years or when your personal and family circumstances change.  For example, getting married or entering into a civil union will revoke your will leaving you with an intestacy if a new will isn’t made in contemplation of the marriage/union.  Conversely if you separate and do not divorce, a new will would prevent your ex from inheriting under the will you made when they were your significant other.  

There are many life events that will impact on how your estate will be administered, which could be contrary to your intentions and the expectations of your loved ones.  For this reason, it is important that everyone, with or without a will, seeks legal advice from time to time to ensure that an appropriate will is put in place or updated to accommodate their changing circumstances.  By doing so you will not only save money, but those left behind will be saved from unnecessary suffering and stress at what is already a difficult time.

By Deeanah Winders