If you are unsure of whether to take steps to prepare a will then read on to discover the impacts and legal implications of dying intestate (without a will) in Queensland. When you lose a loved one it’s fair to say that you will be distressed and the last thing you want to have to do is to figure out details of burial wishes, what to do with assets and liabilities and to try to piece together what your loved one really wanted to happen. The passing of someone you love can be challenging and emotional. The situation is further complicated when the deceased has not left a will, leaving family members and loved ones to navigate the complex legal process of estate distribution. In Queensland, the Succession Act 1981 outlines how a person’s estate should be divided among their relatives in the absence of a valid will, which may not coincide with the deceased’s true intentions.

This article examines the consequences and legal implications of dying without a will in Queensland, also known as dying intestate. You will also discover why it is so important to create a legally sound will with the guidance of an experienced legal professional.

Understanding Intestacy in Queensland

1. What does it mean to die intestate?

In Queensland, when a person dies without a valid will, they are considered to have died “intestate.” This means that their estate will be distributed according to a pre-set formula provided by the laws of intestacy, as outlined in the Succession Act 1981 (Qld).

2. If there is no valid will, how is the Estate distributed?

When there is no valid will in place, the estate will be distributed according to the legal hierarchy of eligible relatives specified in the Succession Act 1981 (Qld)

Here is a brief outline of the distribution process:

  • If there is a surviving spouse (including a de facto partner) but no children, the spouse receives the entire estate.
  • If there is a surviving spouse and children of both the deceased and the spouse, the spouse receives the entire estate.
  • If there is a surviving spouse and children of both the deceased and the spouse, the spouse receives the entire estate.
  • If there is a surviving spouse and children of both the deceased and the spouse, the spouse receives the entire estate.
    • to the deceased’s parents, then
    • siblings, and finally, to
    • other relatives.
  • If there is a surviving spouse and children of both the deceased and the spouse, the spouse receives the entire estate.

Note: these are general guidelines, and specific situations may vary depending on the circumstances at the time of death.

Intestacy and Complex Family Dynamics

1. Multiple Spouses and De Facto Partners
In cases where there are multiple spouses or de facto partners, the distribution of the estate can become complicated. The spouses may have to agree on how to divide the spousal entitlement or seek a court order to determine the division. This can be a time-consuming and emotionally difficult process. Mediation and sound legal representation can assist in negotiating reasonable outcomes.

2. Children from Previous Relationships
In the distribution of an intestate estate, children from previous relationships can create complexities. As mentioned above, when there are children of a deceased person who are not also the children of the surviving spouse, the estate will be divided differently compared to when the surviving children are also the children of the surviving spouse.

3. Intestacy and Guardianship of Minor Children
If the deceased leaves surviving children who are not yet 18 years of age and there is no valid will specifying a guardian for those surviving children, then the Federal Circuit and Family Court of Australia may determine the children’s legal guardian. This situation can be avoided by executing a valid will that nominates a guardian to ensure that your wishes for care of your children are clear and can be implemented.  This way you can provide certainty and stability for any minor children who would be in an already challenging and tragic position without you.

4 Key Reasons You Must Make Your Valid Will Today

1. Control Over the Distribution of Your Estate
By creating a will, you can ensure that your estate is distributed according to your wishes. This can be particularly important for those with complex family dynamics or specific provisions they want to include for loved ones. It is an act of generosity and wisdom to leave a will that clearly and unambiguously states your wishes.

2. Reduce Stress for Family Members
Without a will in place, surviving family members may be faced with a lengthy and stressful administration process. By having a valid will, you help ease the emotional and financial burden on your loved ones during an already difficult time for them.

3. Minimise Family Disputes
A carefully considered, professionally drafted will provides clear instructions for the distribution of your estate, reducing the likelihood of disputes among family members who may have differing opinions on how assets should be divided.

4. Your Estate Planning and Tax
If you are interested in maximising the value of your estate to ensure a more financially secure future for your beneficiaries and the opportunity to avail yourself of potential tax-saving strategies and estate planning opportunities, then talk to your accountant, financial advisor and an expert legal representative.

Can a Beneficiary be an Executor of a Will? Understanding Key Roles in Estate Planning

Engaging a Legal Professional to Draft Your Will

1. Expert Advice, Guidance and Knowledge
Courts are clogged with matters concerning Post Office Wills and self-made wills. If you engage an expert legal professional, you can talk through your options and benefit from their experience, strategic solutions, and savvy suggestions. You can also rely on legal advice regarding the intricacies of succession law as it relates to your particular circumstances.

2. Confidence in Your Legally Sound Will
A reliable legal professional ensures that your will is valid and legally sound document, avoiding potential issues with challenge, interpretation, and/or compliance with Queensland laws.

3. Tailored Solutions
Your needs and wishes must be clearly and directly reflected in such a way that your will provides unambiguous instructions to the Executors of your Estate on your death. An experienced estate planning lawyer will work closely with you to understand your individual circumstances and will create a customised will for you that effectively represents what you want to achieve when you are no-longer around, to ensure that your wishes are carried out.

Do you need Expert Legal guidance on Securing your Legacy? Reach out, Today

If you die without a will in Queensland, unintended consequences for your loved ones can result including unnecessary emotional and financial stress. If you are keen to avoid complications for your family and loved ones, you can make a world of difference today by taking control of your estate planning and engaging the compassionate, expert guidance of Anumis Legal. Our approachable Estate Planning Lawyers will take time to listen to you, advise you and promptly draft your valid will so that your wishes are clear and can be implemented as you would want them to be after you pass away.

Our team of experienced legal professionals is dedicated to providing strategic and streetwise advice tailored to your unique circumstances, helping you create a legally sound and comprehensive will reflecting your desires. Don’t leave the future of your estate to chance; secure your legacy and protect your family’s well-being with Anumis Legal’s valuable support.

Contact Anumis Legal right now to take the first step towards safeguarding your hard-earned assets and to ensure that your assets are distributed according to your preferences, providing invaluable peace of mind for you and your loved ones. For your complimentary consultations with our expert estate planning lawyers, call 07 5455 6347 or email admin@anumis.com.au now. We look forward to assisting you.

If you’re looking for a wills & estate planning on the Sunshine Coast, check out our Wills & Estate Planning page to learn more about our services.


Nadine Love

Nadine Love is a lawyer and part of “the dream team” at Anumis Legal. She completed her law degree at Southern Cross University and received the New South Wales Bar Association Prize for Evidence and Civil Litigation. In addition to her passion for family law and therapeutic jurisprudence Nadine is also a celebrated international author, personal & business coach, drama therapist and motivational mentor. Nadine’s interests encompass swimming and walking in the rainforest with golden retriever Anu, and Australian Shepherds, Lex, and Onyx. She combines her strengths of advocacy, empathy and out-of-the box problem solving to support her clients to achieve their best legal outcomes.

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