Why do I need a will?

By Jocelyn Cooney (Principal) Cooney LawHaving a Will ensures that things that matter to you will be taken care of if you die. A Will sets out your wishes so that your assets go to the people to whom you wish them to go.

What happens if I die without a Will?
The Administration Act sets out how your assets will be distributed if you do not leave a Will. This could be very different to what you actually want.

If you die leaving a partner (marriage or civil union) but no parents or children, then your surviving partner will be entitled to all of your estate.

If you die leaving a partner and children then your partner will be entitled to all your personal chattels, the first $155,000.00 and one third of the rest of your estate with the other two thirds being held for your children.

This can have some unfortunate consequences such as when funds are held in trust for minor children and the surviving parent is left in a poor financial position.It can also create division in families if the deceased person leaves children from a previous relationship.

If you die leaving a partner, no children but have surviving parents then your surviving partner takes your personal chattels, the first $155,000.00 and two thirds of the residue however the parents of the deceased take the other one third.This is certainly not what most people would expect to happen.

You are also able to provide in your Will who are to look after your children if you die.These people are called testamentary guardians.

Interestingly, if you marry, then any Will which you have is automatically revoked.If you divorce the reverse is not true.In this case, your Will is read as if your former spouse had predeceased you and the rest of your Will remains valid.

The costs of administering an estate where there is no Will (an intestacy) are usually significantly greater than if you die leaving a Will.The cost to have a Will prepared is a small price to pay to ensure that you do not leave a mess behind you when you die.