If you are reading this article, you likely value and understand (or at least have been told for the umpteenth time) about the importance of having a valid Will. But why is that so? Have you ever thought to take the time and think about what would happen in the event you die without a Will in place, what if you lose the capacity to make your own personal health and financial decisions? It is all too easy to dismiss these difficult conversations, particularly those involving your own mortality. But what happens if the worst occurs when you don’t have a Will in place?

Who will inherit my estate when there is no Will?

In Queensland, if a person dies without a valid Will they are said to have died “intestate”. When someone dies Intestate in Queensland their estate is distributed in accordance with the Succession Act 1981 (‘the Act’) and the deceased’s testamentary preferences and intentions are not considered and there are no opportunities for provision to be made for those dear to you whom may not be recognised under the Act.

The Act makes distributions to the deceased’s next of kin, including spouses (de-facto or married) and offspring (known as ‘issue’). For example, if a person passes Intestate with a spouse and two children under the Act, after payment of estate debts, the spouse will receive the household chattels and the first $150,000.00 of the estate. The spouse will then receive a one-third share of the remaining estate and the residue will be divided equally amongst the surviving children. It may help to visualise the distributions using the below pie chart.

Who will inherit my estate when there is no Will?

An Intestate estate without a spouse and issue will seek to distribute the estate as set out in the Act – starting with the deceased’s parents and moving to siblings, nephews and nieces, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and then onto cousins. If no close relations can be found the estate reverts to the state of Queensland.

Who may miss out if you don’t have a Will?

The Act is built around distributing to the traditional nuclear family. However, the modern family unit is far from the stereotypical husband, wife, and 2.5 kids. The Act fails to address people who may have had a huge impact on your life, including step-parents, close friends, and in-laws. An ex-spouse may be entitled to claim in the event there has not been legal recognition of the split. Similarly, it can be onerous for a de facto spouse to get recognised as such.

A tailored Will = peace of mind

It may be tempting to save money by amending a template Will found online or produced by non-specialist estate planners. However, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to proper estate planning and the needs of the individual are incredibly unique. That is why it is important to tailor your estate planning to your needs and not rely upon a distribution pursuant to the rules of intestacy.

A well-crafted Will can look after those you hold dear, ensure your intentions are met and overall help make a difficult time far easier for your loved ones. Whilst it may not be a pleasant thought, the peace of mind and sense of security that comes with implementing a valid will cannot be understated.

Whether you are preparing your Will for the first time or updating an existing Will, the team at Rouse Lawyers is here to guide you through this process and ensure your loved ones are cared for even after you are gone.

Future articles from Rouse Lawyers will consider some common scenarios which need accounting for in your Will. Subscribe to our newsletter at the bottom of this webpage to receive these tips straight to your inbox.

Want to future proof your assets? Speak to an expert wills and estates planner at Rouse Lawyers.


The information contained on this website is for general guidance on matters of interest only. The application and impact of laws can vary widely based on the specific facts involved.

Accordingly, the information on this site is provided with the understanding that the authors and publishers are not providing legal advice. As such, it should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal advisers. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult with a professional lawyer from Rouse Lawyers.

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