A will is a legal document that allows you to express how you want your assets and property to be distributed when you die. Planning wills is a simple process that requires you to outline information such as benefactors and what they should receive.
However, as straightforward as estate planning and will creation is, at least half of Australians still don’t have a valid will. If you die without one, you’re leaving behind a complicated mess for your loved ones.
What Does the Law Say About Dying Without a Will?
The law can be complicated when it comes to what happens when you die without a will. The answer to that question can depend on where you live. If you die without a will in Australia, it’s called intestacy, or ‘dying interstate’.
Typically, the law allows your assets to be divided up among surviving immediate family members, such as a spouse or children. However, if no close family members can be found, your assets may be allocated to parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins.
Depending on the state, organisations and individuals may also be able to pursue moral claims against your assets and estate. A charity with close links to you and those not related to you may end up with some of your assets if successful.
Suppose no relatives or entities can be found to claim your estate. In that case, it may pass to the state or territory government under Succession Law.
Why Do People Not Make Wills?
Knowing that you may not be able to distribute your assets to suit your wishes can be enough of a motivation to ensure you have a will in place before you pass. However, there has to be a reason why so many Australians haven’t yet put one in place. There are many reasons why this might be the case, which we’ll cover in more detail below.
Estate planning is something you might say you’ll get around to when you have the time. But time flies when you’re having fun, and you may not get around to it until it’s actually too late. It seems that out of all reasons not to have a will, procrastination is one of the most common ones.
– Being Indecisive About Benefactors
Depending on how many assets you have, you may not find it all that easy to decide who gets them. Your family may not be on speaking terms, and you’re unsure how to manage that, or you simply can’t decide how to split your assets up.
– Not Wanting to Pay for a Will
Wills can sometimes be free if you purchase a new home, but not always. Sometimes, there can be a one-time fee associated with setting them up. Not everyone has the spare money or the inclination to spend money on something that’s not absolutely necessary.
– Their Assets Would Go to the Right People by Default
Even though immediate family members typically do get the assets of someone who dies without a will, that’s not always the case. Why take the risk when it’s not a sure thing? A will gives you peace of mind that they will.
Not having a will doesn’t impact you when you’re gone, but it does affect your family. Tie up loose ends and ensure everyone is taken care of by creating this critical, fast and easy legal document.