Charlotte Lockhart - What happens at the end of life if you don’t have a Will

Publish Date
Friday, 10 February 2017, 12:50PM
By Charlotte Lockhart

Intestate is not the road between Auckland and Wellington. It's what you become if you die without leaving a Will. This means that when it comes to the distribution of your assets, property and personal belongings – regardless of the rights and wrongs of the situation in which your loved ones find themselves – the law takes over.

For those with more than $15,000 in assets, never assume that your widow or children or closest family will get everything when you die. Your assets will be distributed as outlined by the regulations in the Administration Act 1969 (your wife or de facto partner may be entitled to claim half your assets under the Property Act 1976).

The Court will appoint an administrator who will distribute your estate according to the law. The Administrator will first ensure that the estate is distributed to the people who are entitled, including paying any taxes and debts that might be owed.

The administrator will then distribute the remainder of your assets per the following priority list:

  • Spouse, de facto partner or civil union partner (one third of personal possessions, cars, furniture, appliances and jewellery – anything that isn't land, money or buildings); $155,000 plus, and one third of the property.
  • Children (the other two thirds of the rest of the property). Should there be no spouse or partner, the children are given equal shares.
  • Parents (in the event there is no partner, spouse or children).
  • Brothers and sisters (in the event there is no partner, spouse, children or parents).
  • Grandparents (in the event there is no partner, spouse, children, parents, brothers or sisters).
  • Uncles and aunts (in the event there is no partner, spouse, children, parents, brothers, sisters or grandparents).

While you may think your de facto partner is entitled to a share, under the laws of intestacy this usually only occurs if the relationship was for three years or longer unless, for example, there is a child from the relationship.

Should there be no identified family, your assets and property will pass to the Government. Intestacy amounts to a lot of stress and uncertainty and it can be avoided by putting in place a Will – with Perpetual Guardian it can be done online and costs less than $50. Why wouldn't you?

Take your Radio, Podcasts and Music with you