Who benefits from my estate if I haven’t written a will?
You may have heard people making reference to ‘your estate’ when talking about the need to prepare a will.
Your will is a legal document that details how you’d like to deal with your estate after your death. It helps ensure your assets are protected and identifies the person responsible for carrying out your wishes in your will.
What makes up your estate and what happens to it if you don’t have a will?
Defining your ‘estate’
In simple terms your estate is your net worth at any point in time. It is the sum of all of your assets, less any debts or liabilities at that time. The types of assets may form part of your estate might include:
- Real property;
- Personal items (e.g. jewellery, art, heirlooms and antiques etc.) and a separate document with any assets you have in a trust;
- Any stocks or bonds that you have; and
- Bank accounts.
Life insurance and superannuation
The proceeds from your life insurance and superannuation do not automatically form part of your estate. If you are unsure of how your life insurance and superannuation benefits will be dealt with, you should speak to your policy providers and/or consult a financial advisor.
Who gets what?
A person who dies without leaving a will is said to have died intestate. If you don’t have a will, State and Territory laws determine who benefits from your estate.
Generally speaking, your estate will be distributed to your closest next of kin, i.e. your spouse and children.
If you die intestate, you don’t have a say in who can benefit from your estate. This means that having a clearly written and up-to-date will helps ensure that your property and possessions are distributed in accordance with your wishes.
Each day we talk to executors and grieving families that are overwhelmed with the administration tasks. To speak with one of our expert team about how we can help you with your estate planning call us today on 03 9667 6444.