Prince didn't expect to die on 21 April 2016. The rock star
was just 57 and to all accounts healthy. Maybe he felt he still had
time to write a will. Maybe, like many of us, he feared making a
will would tempt the grim reaper to look his way.
Sadly, it's a fact of life that death can come knocking any
time. Nobody expects car accidents, heart attacks while jogging or
lightning strikes while playing golf.
Joshua Crowther, a Law Society Accredited Specialist in Wills
and Estates at Stacks Law Firm, has seen the consequences a death
without leaving a will can cause to a family.
"It can get very ugly as some people think they deserve a
bigger slice of the pie," Mr Crowther said.
"It is far, far better to have a will ready as soon as you
start to build an estate, marry or have children so that it spares
those left behind, and you have the satisfaction of knowing your
estate will be distributed the way you want."
Prince's lack of a will has started a king size brawl in the
US over his $400 million fortune. A sister, five half-siblings,
long lost cousins and a lovechild are battling for control of his
Mr Crowther says in NSW if a person dies without a will the laws
of intestacy take hold, and the distribution of the estate goes to
a descending order of living relatives.
"The easiest scenario is if X dies leaving spouse Y and
their two children; Y gets the lot. If X has no spouse or children
it goes to X's parents. If the parents are dead it goes equally
to X's siblings. If siblings are dead it goes to siblings'
"The more complex the surviving family such as divorces and
children from second or third partner, the more complicated the
distribution of the estate."
If there is no living relative the estate goes to government
"You may prefer Treasury gets your estate than a nasty
relative, but without a will you have no choice. You may want a
charity to get your estate, but it won't happen without a will.
If there's no will the court usually appoints the primary
beneficiary as executor of the estate, and that may not be
"What happens if the entire family dies in a car accident?
Who should be executor? Don't wait until you are dead because
then it is too late. It's far better to get expert legal help
to prepare a will that meets your wishes and plans for all possible
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