Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Estate Plan?

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Written by Estate Planning Solicitor Ellen (Eleni) Pacelli 

“From forth the fatal loins of these two foes, A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life; Whose misadventured piteous overthrows, Doth with their death bury their parents’ strife….”

Well, we know what happened with Romeo and Juliet at the end, but what happened to their estates?

Granted, Shakespeare, the greatest writer of all time of course does not go into the couple’s assets, but what would happen if they did have valuable assets? What if the couple in secret worked hard, saved their money and bought a little cottage of their own up north to get away from their families? 

If Romeo and Juliet lived and died today, the issues that would include:

  • Who would manage their estate?
  • Who would have control over their remains?
  • Who would have control over their assets?
  • What would happen to their Superannuation if they had not nominated anyone?
  • What would happen to their cottage up north?

In short, the answers are likely to be:

  1. The couple died intestate, i.e. without a will, thus their parents would have control of their children’s estate respectfully.
  2. The respective parents would be able to apply to be administrators for their children’s estate.
  3. The respective parents would have control over their children’s remains and decide where they are to be buried.
  4. Their Superannuation would be left to the trustee to decide who it was to go to, an application in which the administrator will need to attend to;
  5. The cottage is likely to be transferred to Juliet’s parents.

Why would Juliet’s parents take the biggest asset owned by the young couple?

Well, in most cases for young couples, they are most likely to be listed as joint tenants when buying their first home. The issue here is that joint tenancy relies on survivorship. Whoever is the last person alive will receive the whole of the property (i.e. cottage)

In Romeo and Juliet’s scenario, it would be difficult for the authorities to confirm who died last, so upon relying on NSW legislation which outlines the rules of survivorship, Juliet’s parents will get the cottage.If it could be confirmed that Romeo died last, then his parents would get the cottage.  

Aside from not being buried together after death, it would be horrible for Romeo or Juliet’s family to miss out on their children’s hard work.

Or perhaps the couple did not want their humble cottage to go to their parents, but to the Children’s Tumour Foundation?

Without a will, and other necessary documents, we will never know! Contact Dr Malcolm Stoddart and Ellen (Eleni) Pacelli from the Owen Hodge Lawyers CBD Estates Planning Team to get your affairs in order!

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