Wills & Estate

Category: Wills & Estate Date: 2.2.20 Published by:

The majority of people are aware that whilst wills are important to make or update, due to their busy life people often do not make it a priority.

Do I need a will, even if I am young?

The minimum age requirement for a will is 18 years of age. The do not necessarily need to be made by the elderly.

  • They can be made by people who have young families to make sure that they are cared for should they pass;
  • Your will may invalidated by your marriage;
  • You may have recently purchased a property and need to make the necessary provisions for that property;
  • Your life circumstances may have changed since your last will.

Can I prepare my own will?

Wills can be complex there are certain formalities that need to be adhered to when preparing a will. This may mean that preparing a will on your own this may be overlooked and therefore may cause issues once the will is administered.

What happens if I die without a will?

Someone who dies without leaving a Will is called an “intestate”.  This means that the division of assets cannot be distributed until an estate administrator is appointed.

Before an estate administrator is appointed by the court a Grant of Administration will need to be applied. The Administration and Probate Act 1958 (Vic) sets out the law surrounding intestacy. The Act contains a formula which sets out how the estate of the deceased will be distributed.

How is the estate divided?

Firstly, once a estate administrator is appointed, their first point of business will be to make sure that the debts are paid first. These may include, funeral expenses, taxes, loans or mortgages, legal fees and any other expense.

Division of Assets

Once the estate has paid the outstanding debts owed, the deceased’s assets can then be distributed to their dependants. It is important to note that there is a hierarchy that must be followed.

The hierarchy is as follows:

  • Spouse and partners
  • Children, grandchildren (it is important to note that where children are involved it may become more complicated. For example the deceased person may have children with a prior partner, the current partner may inherit all of the personal property, the remaining assets may be distributed to those children, but this will depend on how long the de facto and deceased where in a relationship )
  • Parents
  • Siblings
  • Grandparents
  • Aunts, uncles
  • Nieces, nephews
  • First cousins
  • Second cousins
  • Other family members
  • State government.

This hierarchy needs to be adhered to when a person dies intestate. It is also important to note that when it comes to inheritance, there is no distinction between biological children, adopted children or step children.

In order to ensure that your wishes are carried after your passing it is imperative to write a Will or adjust an existing one if circumstances have changed.