Who gets a property if there is no will?

Published 05 Jul 2019

It's always a wise idea to have a plan, especially when it comes to your wishes for after your passing. When there's there's no will in sight, how is property handled in the division of an estate?

What happens to my property if I die without a will?

In New South Wales, dying without a will is known as intestacy. Fortunately, even if someone dies without a will, their loved ones will likely still benefit from their estate. The hierarchy of inheritance is set out in the Succession Act 2006 (NSW), and notes the order of beneficiaries as:

  • Spouses and children.
  • Parents.
  • Siblings.
  • Grandparents.
  • Uncles and Aunts.

If a deceased person is survived by a spouse and no children, the spouse will receive the entirety of the estate. Even if there are children and they are of the spouse, they're still entitled to the whole estate. This includes assets such as property.

However, if the deceased person wasn't the sole owner of their property, such as owning a house with a joint tenant, the ownership of the house goes to that tenant, and isn't listed as part of the deceased's assets. This doesn't include houses which the deceased owned through shares. Instead, the deceased shares would be inherited by their beneficiaries, whether it's their spouse, children or other relative.

Usually when someone passes with an existing will, they have an executor named who can apply for probate, which allows them to distribute your estate on your behalf. When there isn't a will, eligible relatives will need to apply for a grant of Letters of Administration through the Supreme Court of New South Wales, which allows an estate to be distributed without a will.

With over 50 years experience in the field of estate planning, our team are dedicated to helping our clients set their affairs in order, no matter how simple or complex the assets. Furthermore, we are well-versed in preparing both wills and Letters of Administration, and are confident in our ability to offer sound advice on what provisions to prepare for in your estate planning.

For more information, get in touch with the experts at Malouf Solicitors.

Please call us on 02 8833 2000 to speak with a lawyer

I remain extremely grateful for Maloufs legal representation related to my financial management of the estate of my brother and for your continuing help and advice in this matter. As an aside, I always recommend Maloufs to my friends and family members who are seeking the best legal representation - only last week, I strongly advised a close family friend that their best interests would be served by arranging an appointment at your Parramatta offices.
John of Parramatta NSW

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Parramatta NSW 2124

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