What happens if there is no Will?

07 February 2018

by Anna Elder, Senior Associate and Kerry Cox Registered Legal Executive

If you pass away and have not executed a valid will, then depending on the value of your assets that you own in your sole name (not assets held jointly with another) your next of kin will need to apply to the High Court pursuant to the Administration Act 1969 for Letters of Administration to deal with your property after your death.

 

 

If your estate has more than $15,000 of assets then Letters of Administration are required to deal with it. The application is expensive and can be time-consuming.

The Administration Act states who can apply to the High Court to administer your estate. This may mean that the person who will administer your estate is not the person whom you want to deal with your estate.

Distribution of your assets is also prescribed under section 77 Administration Act.

The first $155,000 plus 1/3 of the residuary estate is allowed for a surviving spouse. 2/3 of the residuary estate is to be shared equally between children.

This may not be what you intend to happen when you pass away so it is important to have a will that states whom you want to administer your estate and whom you want your assets to go to at time of death.

If the assets held in a bank account are under $15,000 in value and no will has been left then administration can be completed as set out in the Administration Act 1969

Surviving next of kin can complete a declaration on the forms as provided by the Bank/financial institution / Life Insurance Company, and together with a certified copy of the Death Certificate, and Identification as required will be sufficient for closure of the accounts. 

The funeral account has first right of call of payment from the assets.

Headstone/ inscription fees, Creditors and legal fees paid.

Once headstone/inscription fees, creditor and legal expenses have been paid, the balance credit left in the estate can be distributed. The surviving spouse is entitled to the credit and if no surviving spouse then equally to children.