A friend of mine recently separated and is sharing custody of their son – she doesn’t have a will.
I gave her a look and she rolled her eyes stating she knew it was important to have a will, but it didn’t matter much because she doesn’t have any assets.
I asked about her son – if your child is orphaned, a testamentary guardian is the person who decides who they should live with. If you don’t appoint a testamentary guardian, it becomes a matter for the family court.
Importantly although my friend has separated from her husband, they are not yet divorced; therefore he is still legally her spouse. If she were to die, he would get her estate. Although she says she has no assets, she does have savings in the bank and tens of thousands in super.
Importantly my friend should update her superannuation binding death benefit nominations – some people may have no other assets but die with hundreds of thousands in super. The binding death benefit nomination is managed directly through your super fund and not your will.
If you die without a valid will it’s called intestacy. Interestingly a new marriage cancels a will, but divorce doesn’t. Divorce simply deletes the ex-spouse from the will.
Importantly, dying without a will means you don’t have an executor – the person nominated in the will to carry out your wishes. Instead, an administrator is appointed from among people with an interest in the estate.
Thinking about your own death and completing paperwork to enact your wishes when that happens is reason enough to procrastinate on getting a will. However it is better to outline what your wishes are so that your loved ones don’t have to deal with further stress at such a difficult time.