It’s a sad time when your loved one dies. When your loved one passes away unexpectedly, the shock is often amplified. But when they die without having written a Will, the outcome can be catastrophic to those left behind. Unfortunately, that is what happened to a client of mine.
Her son died unexpectedly at the age of 29. He had never done a Will.
From my experience, a lot of people under the age of 40 believe that they don’t need a Will “yet”. My client’s son was no different. At the time of his death, his estate consisted of a small savings fund, personal possessions, a motor vehicle and a superannuation balance of approximately $20,000.
Several months later my client was contacted by her son’s superannuation fund to confirm that like most of us, he had an insurance policy attached to his superannuation and it was for an amount of more than $400,000.
The son had made a nomination to the Fund but it wasn’t binding on the trustee. The insurer decided to pay the money to the son’s estate. As he didn’t have a Will, the son was intestate and therefore his estate is divided by applying a set of rules under the law.
As the son didn’t have a spouse or children, his estate was divided between his parents being my client and the son’s natural father.
There had been no contact from the father since the son was the age of two. However, because he was the biological father he ended up with more than $200,000 from his son’s estate.
You are probably thinking “that isn’t fair”! But the law can’t see around corners or mind read or know about emotional matters.
It is vitally important that you not only have a Will, but you make sure to review it regularly to ensure it continues to accurately reflect your wishes.
Your Will doesn’t have to be complex.
It does need to be clear as to who is going to look after the Estate, and who is to receive a benefit - and it should be done after considering all the potential issues which can only really be done properly by an experienced wills and estates lawyer.
This is the best you can do, if not for ourselves then for our loved ones.