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WHO INHERITS WHEN
THERE IS NO WILL?

A 2017 survey by the WA Public Trustees found that half of West Australians over the age of 40 do not have a valid Will. The survey also found that only 19% of families with young children have a valid Will.

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FACT SHEETS

PROPERTY OWNERSHIP AND WILLS

Why do property owners need a Will?

Buying a property is in many cases the single biggest purchase a person or couple will make. It is often the largest asset in a deceased person’s estate.

Whether purchased as a family home or as an investment property it is vital that the asset is protected in the event of the owners, or part owners death or incapacity.

SOLE OWNERSHIP:

  • When a sole owner of a property dies without leaving a Will the complications and distress can have an even greater impact.
  • The death may leave the property without any named beneficiary or person properly authorised (e.g. an executor) to immediately dispose of or manage the property.
  • There may also be a need to allow a dependent relative a right to reside in some instances

JOINT TENANCY:

  • If one party of a joint tenancy ownership dies, the surviving owner will automatically inherit the property by right and have complete control of the property
  • They may dispose of the property or gift the property to whomever they choose thus the potential to disinherit children from the first relationship (The first deceased may have wished certain people to benefit from their share).

TENANTS IN COMMON:

  • If one party of tenants in common ownership dies, the surviving owners will retain their own shares in the property however the deceased’s share may not have any appointed beneficiaries leaving the others uncertain as to its disposal.
  • If a Will is in place then the co-owners can continue to manage the property until the beneficiaries under the Will has the share transferred to them or funds are made available to distribute the value of the share.

WITHOUT A WILL:-

  • Uncertainty prevails on who should inherit the property and difficulties can arise.
  • Long delays can occur with the disposal of and the distribution of the property if applicable
  • A near relative, if available and capable, would have to apply to the local Supreme Court for letters of administration to manage the property and the rest of the estate
  • During that period when there is no direction, the family and co-owners may be financially disadvantaged.

WITH A WILL:

  • The benefits of having a Will are many, most importantly, the wishes of the deceased property owner are well documented
  •  The appointed executor is able to distribute the estate and in particular the property.
  • Right planning in the writing of a Will to dispose of property is the key to the Will makers’ wishes and the security of the beneficiaries and family members.

SUMMARY:

If you are a property owner, you should have a Will to decide who are to be the beneficiaries of your property or share of a property.

Willcraft Estate Planning specialise in helping property owners to ensure the right protection is in place for both their family and personal needs as well as those of their dependents and beneficiaries.

For further information contact our team on (08) 9368 1337

Information provided by Willcraft Estate Planning Pty Ltd, An Incorporated Legal Practice.