26 September 2023

Laws changed to deal with deaths without a will

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Legislation has passed Parliament reforming the State’s outdated laws relating to how property is distributed among family members following the death of a loved one who did not have a will (intestacy).

The Administration Amendment Bill 2021 brings Western Australia into line with other Australian jurisdictions by updating the existing statutory scheme for the distribution of property.

In a statement, the Department of Justice said intestacy occurred when the whole or part of the estate of a deceased person was not disposed of by a will.

“The property that has not been dealt with effectively by a will is usually distributed according to a regime established by State laws,” the Department said.

“The updated scheme increases the payment to a surviving spouse or partner from $50,000 to $472,000 if the deceased dies leaving direct descendants, such as children or grandchildren,” it said.

The Department said if the deceased died leaving a surviving spouse or partner but no direct descendants, the amount was increased from $75,000 to $705,000.

It said a surviving partner included a de-facto partner or same-sex partner.

“A formula for calculating the amount of the statutory legacies into the future has been included in the legislation, requiring the amount to be reviewed every two years,” the Department said.

Attorney General, John Quigley said dependents of those who died without a valid will across the country were entitled to fair statutory legacy payments.

“However, in Western Australia the statutory legacy has remained critically low for four decades,” Mr Quigley said.

“It has not been amended since 1982,” he said.

“Whilst the Government has addressed this issue, the most important thing people can do to avoid their estate being distributed according to a pre-determined formula is to have a will prepared by a lawyer,” Mr Quigley said.

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