Every year in Australia thousands of people die and they don’t have a will. The unfortunate passing could have been sudden, such as an accident, or expected, as in the case of the elderly or an ongoing illness. Either way, the result is the same. Your loved one has passed on, but hasn’t left any instructions behind regarding their estate. What do you do?
A person who dies without having made a will is said to have died ‘intestate’. In cases like these you’ll hear terms like ‘intestacy’ and ‘partial intestacy’, the latter meaning the person did have a will, but parts of the will’s instructions cannot be carried out.
What Happens In the Case of Intestacy?
If someone dies without a will but they do have an estate, the estate will then be divided up and distributed by the laws that govern intestacy. These laws are fairly rigid and don’t take into account close relationships outside of the family in most instances. Generally the rules are slanted towards favouring spouses, children, parents and other relatives, but don’t really include close friends or people who are not relatives, but may have been responsible for that person’s care for many years. It’s unfortunate, but this is how it works if someone doesn’t have a will, or the contents of a will can’t be carried out.
In the case of an estate being distributed according to intestacy law, the result could be that the least deserving people actually benefit the most, while those more deserving are left out altogether. It may not sound fair, but when there is no legal will to govern the distribution of assets, then that’s how the law works.
If a loved one has passed without leaving a will behind, then you’ll want to get in touch with a qualified and experienced lawyer. Intestacy lawyers are there to help resolve what will otherwise be a confusing and possibly contentious dilemma.
How An Intestacy Lawyer Can Really Help
Only an experienced lawyer is going to fully comprehend the laws surrounding intestacy, so if you find yourself in a position where someone close to you has passed on without a will, then you’ll really need a lawyer’s help if you have plans to contest the rules of intestacy law. This is of utmost importance if you’re not provided for under those laws.
An example might be a partner of the deceased although they were never married. In this case you’re not a spouse and you’re not a relative, so chances are high you’ll be excluded from the estate under intestacy law.
A lawyer can also help out when a relative who had very little to do with the deceased stands to gain from intestacy law when they really shouldn’t even be considered.
Intestacy cases can prove to be far more complicated than when a loved one leaves a will, so it’ll be virtually impossible for someone not included under the law to make a claim for a portion of the estate without a lawyer handling the case for them.
If you find yourself in this situation, don’t hesitate to enlist a specialist law firm as soon as possible.
Most of these firms will offer you a free consultation in the first instance. This gives you a chance to state your claim to them and they can determine if you have a case. With the meeting being free, you get to know where you stand without risk.
On top of that, often these lawyers will work on the ‘no win no fee’ guarantee, so if they decide to take on your intestacy case and they lose, you owe them nothing. You only pay their fee when they win and you’re getting your fair share from the estate.
With something as complex as intestacy law there’s no point trying to guess what you can do. The only way to know for certain where you stand is to speak to a qualified lawyer and put your mind at ease.