Dying Without a Will – What Are the Costs?

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Deciding to create a Will can be a difficult decision that many people avoid. Thinking about our mortality is never pleasant, but there can be significant consequences for not planning for your death which can leave your loved ones and your estate in flux.  

What is the first consequence of dying without a Will? 

When you die without the benefit of having drafted a legally viable Will, you lose the right to direct where and two whom, you would like your estate assets to go. Instead, your assets will be delivered via the Intestacy Laws. For many, these directives do not align with their personal wishes. For example, if you die without a Will, your assets will go to your spouse and your biological children. If you have biological children from a previous relationship, those children will inherit also. If you die without a spouse, only your biological children will inherit. Hence, if you had other loved ones that you wanted to provide for after your passing, they would not inherit any portion of your estate. Therefore, if you want to provide for others in your life, it is important to draft a Will and include them as beneficiaries. 

The Second Consequence; Choosing an Administrator 

Most people have a loved one that they particularly trust and rely upon. When you draft a Will, you can choose the person you want to oversee the distribution of your estate. This person is called the Administrator of the estate. However, if you die intestate, then the Court will appoint someone to take responsibility for the distribution of your assets under the laws of intestacy. Usually, this will be a person from your family who has a significant share in the estate. For example, it is highly likely that if you have a spouse at the time of your death, the court will elect them to be the Administrator of your estate. It is important to elect this person yourself so that you are at peace with knowing that your estate will be distributed by a person you trust to follow your last wishes. 

The Third Consequence; Letters of Administration 

Your family will not be permitted to apply for their Letters of Administration which will allow them to distribute your assets. Instead, they will have to go through the process of proving that they are entitled to your estate. This process can take time and slow down the administration of the estate, overall.  

The Fourth Consequence; Uncertainty and Discord 

When you pass away without a Will, your loved ones are left with no direction and no particular directives. This can open the door to varying opinions, and additional responsibilities, for distributing and closing out your estate. And, when this happens, it creates the possibility for arguments and emotional upheaval. However, when you take responsibility for making your own clear and concise decisions in a Will, this consequence is significantly limited.  

The Take Away 

  • While it can be difficult to consider your own mortality, it is wise to plan for the same 
  • It is important for you to make your own decisions as to how you want your assets distributed amongst family and friends 
  • Choosing a person who you trust to Administer your estate will increase the efficiency by which your affairs are settled  
  • The more effort and time you put into planning and executing your Will, the less your loved ones will have to do upon your death
  • The loss of a loved one is difficult for those who are grieving, your advance planning can limit, and possibly eliminate, any arguments amongst those you love 

In the event that you find yourself in need of assistance, please contact the law offices of Owen Hodge Lawyers. At Owen Hodge, we are always happy to assist clients in understanding the full ramifications of any and all of your legal needs. Please feel free to call us at your earliest convenience to schedule a consultation at 1800 770 780. 



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