What Happens When Someone Dies Without a Will?

A legal will makes it easier to distribute the assets of the departed individual, and is based on a person’s own preferences. Therefore, it is always best to see either a good family lawyer that specialises in Wills or a commercial lawyer to have it made. The will determines which family member will inherit what property, which saves everyone from conflicts later on. In the situation where there are no family members to inherit the property, the will outlines the name of a relative, a friend, a charity or any chosen person that the departed wanted to give away their property to.

On the other hand, when an individual dies without a will, the condition is called as intestacy. There are laws made for dealing with such situations which outline the distribution of the deceased’s properties, personal belongings, and money. You can opt for the documents mentioned below to settle the matter in such a scenario.

Letters of Administration

A grant of the Letter of Administration is applicable, in the situation of intestate, instead of probate. The property of the deceased will then be given to the relatives who are entitled to it as the Succession Act 2006 states.

Letters of Administration Grant Application

A Letter of Administration is a court order. In the situation where no will is present or no executor is stated in the will, the Letter of Administration permits the administration of an estate. An eligible relative can apply for Letter of Administration if the investigation results have stated the absence of any will. Applying for this grant is similar to that of a probate grant; but there are additional documents that are required to file it in the Supreme Court:

  1. An administration bond is required in exceptional situations.
  2. Official declaration (an affidavit) is required, in which it should be stated that the deceased was not involved in any de facto relationships. In the case that a de facto spouse, same-sex or opposite-sex partner is making the application, there should be a comprehensive affidavit that verifies them as a de facto spouse.

Administration Bonds

An Administration Bond was made mandatory in December 2001, in order to protect the entitlements of the next of kin who haven’t consented or weren’t among the application parties. If the application was made by all the beneficiaries in the estate, this condition is not applicable.

Ideally, a notice should be given to an adult beneficiary who is part of the application for administration to inform them. However, in a few situations, like securing the entitlement of a beneficiary whose age is under 18, a bond is needed. Consultation from a lawyer is the right option in this case since they can help in deciding which bond to opt for.


An affidavit of an application should have the following things present in it for administration:

  1. Important documents such as; birth, death and marriage certificates should be used in order to identify the eligible relatives of the departed person.
  2. To consider testamentary intentions of the deceased person, a list should be made which should include the investigation done for the will or any other documents.
  3. Record of the liabilities and assets of the deceased should be present in the application.
  4. Death certificate and notice of intended application should be put together 14 days before the day you have planned to file the application. In the Supreme Court online registry, the notice of intention to apply should be made in order to search for any hidden will inheritor.

The decedent’s estate is not passed on to the State in the absence of a will, as is widely believed. Rather, according to the Succession Act 2006, some of the relatives are eligible to acquire the estate. Only in the condition of no eligible relatives, will the property be given to the State. The process however, becomes complex without a will and takes up longer time than necessary. Hence, in spite of the alternatives that we discussed above; having a will is always better than no will at all.

What Happens When Someone Dies Without a Will?