What happens if I die without a will? Do I really need a will?
Tuesday, June 26, 2018
What happens if I die without a will?
Do I really need a will?
When should I make a will?
If you die without a will, you are said to be ‘intestate’. Your estate will be distributed to the nearest of kin according to provisions under the Succession Act. Your spouse and issue (children and grandchildren) receive priority, followed by parents, siblings, nieces & nephews, grandparents, uncles & aunts, and first cousins. Finally, if no such family members are alive, then your estate will be given to the Crown. The court will not allow variations to be made to this order except to ensure the ‘adequate provision’ of your spouse and children.
Therefore any intentions you held or verbal promises you may have made will be overridden by the rules of the Succession Act. The inflexibility of this process is especially unlikely to reflect your wishes where your family is large or blended.
If your next of kin is not immediately known, then the court may order extensive searches of your family tree. These can be costly and therefore reduce the value of your estate, as well as putting extra stress on your family members in what is already a difficult time.
What if my will is outdated?
It is also important to ensure that your will is up-to-date, to ensure it reflects the contents of your estate and your current wishes. You should always check that your will remains valid and up-to-date following any significant life events. For example, if you get married, your previous will is automatically revoked (unless that will contained a clause in anticipation of a future marriage), and so you will be left intestate. Similarly, any dispositions to a spouse will be automatically removed following divorce. Other events, such as buying or selling a house or coming into unexpected wealth may mean that your assets are not accurately reflected, and so your estate may not be administered as you would have intended.
Bennett Carroll Wills & Estates
Our expert Wills and estates lawyers provide a holistic approach to estate planning, giving you the comfort of knowing your will is not only valid, but importantly will reflect your wishes to the letter. We create personalised wills that deal with your specific family situation, for example a blended family, and can provide for beneficiaries who are disabled or in financial difficulty. By making in-depth enquiries regarding who you would like to include and exclude from your will, we ensure that each decision is justified within the will, meaning that the document will be upheld. Additionally, using Bennett Carroll to create your will allows you to appoint whomever you choose as your executor, giving you peace of mind that someone you trust will administer your estate.
We offer this service at a competitive price that is only a fraction of the potential costs of trying to admit an invalid Will to probate.
If you need advice on a new or existing will or EPOA please contact us today!