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What happens when you don’t have a will? Radio National interviews Catherine Henry

Catherine Henry Lawyers
Catherine Henry Lawyers

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Principal of the firm, Catherine Henry, discussed “What happens if you die without a Will?” with Sarah Dingle on ABC Radio National.

It is an important question as almost half of Australian adults don’t have a Will.

When you die without a will you die intestate. This can cause all sorts of problems, especially for loved one already grieving your death. It is often up to the courts to decide who should get your estate (assets and money). Each state in Australia has its own laws and formula on who gets what. In some cases government agencies can claim up to 30%.

In short, dying without a Will means the people or charities you want to get your wealth may not get it. As is the ongoing case with the estate of American singer Aretha Franklin.

In the interview Catherine and Sarah discuss what needs to go into a Will and can a handwritten note suffice? What if there is more than one Will discovered?

A hand written note can suffice but Catherine advises a proper Will that dots all the ‘i’s and crosses the ‘t’s. This avoids delays or contesting of the Will down the track. Being specific about which asset goes to which person is important. Especially sentimental items over whom relatives may fight – such as jewellery.

Catherine explains the role of an executor and the difference between that role and power of attorney. A good lawyer will ensure clients have the right suite of estate planning documents.

She also points out that the need for a proper Will increases as a person ages. That’s because they have more and changing assets. People also start new relationships. Blended families are another reason for having a Will and updating it as relationships change.

The best way to minimise or avoid the many problems covered in the interview is to get a Will.

“All roads lead to having a properly drawn and executed Will,” Catherine said.

Listen to the interview here.

For more information on how our lawyers can help you with a Will or other state planning click here.

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