Dying without a will is called dying “intestate.” Where this occurs, the local, regional, or federal law (not you or your family) determines who is entitled to your assets, based on your survivors’ relationship to you.These are known as the intestacy laws, and they vary greatly from one country to the next, and even from one state or region to the next. In Australia – at least in the state of Victoria – the current intestacy laws have been criticized for being outdated and insufficient, particularly with regard to the treatment of the deceased’s spouse/defacto and their children. See the Administration and Probate Act 1958: Distribution if intestate leaves a partner. It is argued that the current laws results in insufficient provision for the surviving spouse; if the major asset of the estate is the family home, it may result in the spouse having to sell the property to pay the children their entitlement. A bill has been introduced to the Victorian Parliament which would significantly alter the distribution of intestate estates by, among other measures, giving a much larger portion of the estate to the surviving spouse, providing for multiple partners of the deceased, and limiting the degree of “kinship” entitled to inherit on intestacy.
While the proposed measures in the new bill may resolve several intestacy issues in parts of Australia, they are also inadequate for many individuals and families as they cannot deal with the intricacies and complexities of modern family and financial situations, asset structures and your individual wishes. The answer to the questions left open by this bill is the same answer in any jurisdiction regarding allocation of your assets after your death – write a will to express your exact wishes for the distribution of your estate. Speak with your Ally Law member firm estate planning attorneys to set up a will with due consideration of local laws, tax laws, and your individual wishes. Ally Law member firms have attorneys around the world with deep experience in wills, powers of attorney, and estate planning who can assure your assets are treated the way you envision. For more information about Ally Law member firm services and outstanding lawyers, contact us at email@example.com.