If a person dies intestate, without a Will, or not all the assets have been accounted for in a Will (partially intestate), legislation simply nominates who will benefit from the estate; this is carried out using a strict statutory formula to your next of kin.
The estate does not pass to the Government unless the deceased has no living relatives, and extensive efforts to find family have been exhausted.
The Tasmanian Intestacy Act 2010 details who will benefit from an intestate estate. It can be summarised as follows:
The surviving spouse will inherit the whole estate unless there are children from another relationship of the deceased. Where there are children from another relationship the surviving spouse is entitled to the following:
- Statutory spousal legacy of $350,000 (adjusted to CPI);
- Tangible personal property of the deceased;
- Half of the remainder (if any). The remaining half of any residue is to be divided between all children of the deceased.
If there is more than one surviving spouse (e.g. a separated husband or wife and a de facto partner) each spouse is entitled to share in the estate.
If there is no spouse the residue of the estate is to be divided between all children of the deceased.
If there is no spouse or children the estate will go to the parents.
If there are no parents the estate will go to siblings in equal shares.
If a sibling has passed away, their share will go to their children.
If there are no siblings it will go to the grandparents.
If there are no grandparents, the estate will be distributed in equal shares amongst all the deceased’s aunts and uncles. If an aunt or an uncle has passed away it will go to their children (the deceased’s first cousins).
Only when none of the above family members can be found will the estate go to the Government.
A spouse of the deceased is defined as a person who:
- was married to the deceased at the time of death; or
- was party to a registered personal relationship, or
- was party to a significant relationship, within the meaning of the Relationships Act 2003, with the deceased immediately before death that either;
- existed for a continuous period of at least 2 years; or
- resulted in the birth of a child.
NOTE: The way you own assets may also affect how your assets are distributed. For example, jointly owned assets automatically pass to the surviving owner(s) under the survivorship rule.
For more information, see FAQ What happens if I don’t have a Will?