Trusts and Estates
A lot of clients ask us if they need a Will. Our answer is always "yes".
The truth is, that not having a Will creates added expense, time and complexity to your estate administration. It also leaves your family in doubt as to what your wishes really were.
Following someone's death, any asset over $15,000 or piece of land that is not owned jointly with another person, requires a grant of administration from the High Court. If you have a Will, this grant is called probate and is relatively simple. If you do not have a Will, then a family member must apply for letters of administration on intestacy which is a more complicated process. The Administration Act 1969 sets out who is to administer your estate and who receives your assets in this situation.
For example, if you die leaving a partner (including a husband, wife, civil union partner or de facto partner) but you don't have children, and one or both of your parents are alive, then your parents get a share of your estate if it is over a certain value. This could cause distress and conflict if your partner suddenly found they had to pay your parents out in order to keep their home.
Another example is that if you die leaving a partner and children, then your children also get a share of your estate if it is over a certain value.
Finally, if you don't have any family at all, your estate vests entirely in the Crown.
In our practice we have faced many different issues with these estates which have ended up costing their families far more than the cost of a Will.
For the sake of your family's piece of mind, we recommend everyone has a Will.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.