When a person dies without leaving a will or has a will that fails to deal with all of the property to be effectively disposed, it is considered that they have died intestate. For centuries there have been rules that deal with the property left by a person who dies intestate, these rules are based upon kinship and proximity.
Kinship, Proximity & the Deceased’s Estate
The closer a person is within the kinship chain the greater entitlement that they have to the property to be distributed. In Australia these century old rules, which stem back to the Statute of Distribution which was enacted in England in 1670, have been followed and are enacted within the respective state based Succession Act.
As closer kinships rule out remote kinships there is a pecking order as to who the property is distributed to. The following highlights the order in which an intestateâ€™s property will be distributed:
- Brothers, Sisters, Nephews & Nieces
- Uncleâ€™s, Aunts, & Cousins
- The Crown
Should at the time the intestate dies, he still has a surviving spouse and child or in fact children, then the property will be equally divided between them. The order of distribution for the intestates property only comes into issue should the intestate not have a spouse or child that survives them. Much of this law is also covered within Family Provision legislation.
Get a Will & Protect Your Estate
While many people fail to leave a will when they die, the distribution of property order shows that there is a long list of people who can ultimately share in the residuary estate. By failing to have a carefully planned will people effectively have no say in how their property will be disposed of after their death. The making of a will is a simple process and will limits family disputes about who should and should not receive property from your estate.