Settling Property Disputes Amicably After a Death in the Family

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Last Will and Testament Document Ready to Sign

Grownup siblings fighting over inheritance don’t just happen on TV and films; it’s pretty common in real life and these quarrels can tear apart even the closest of families. At times, the deceased’s adult grandchildren can also be involved.

This highlights the importance of proper estate planning and writing a will for your properties in Townsville or any other places. There is no better time to discuss ownership and distribution of your properties with your children than now, while you’re still in good shape. Having an elaborate plan can prevent family feuds in the future, especially when you’re gone.

What Happens When There’s No Will?

In Australia, the deceased will be assumed to have died “intestate” if a will is not found. As per Chapter 4 of the Succession Act 2006, the deceased estate will be inherited by their eligible relatives, but in an instance in which the deceased had died without eligible relatives, the estate will then be passed to the State.

Who are the Eligible Relatives?

The law divides “eligible relatives” into two classifications: spouses and other relatives. The spouse is the person the deceased was married to before the death. If unmarried, a domestic partner will be counted as a spouse. Ex-spouses, meanwhile, will not be recognized by the law.

In the absence of a spouse, the relatives will be inheriting the estate. The order of relatives are as follows:

  • children
  • parents
  • siblings
  • grandparents
  • aunts and uncles
  • cousins

Avoiding Inheritance Wars

As mentioned, having an estate plan will prevent inheritance feuds. Once done, sit down with your family and discuss the details of your plan. The goal of this discussion should not be getting your children’s approval, but rather just letting them know about any impact it might have on your grandchildren, for example.

Dividing your estate equally also helps; passing a larger portion of an estate to a more needy child isn’t actually helping them. This instead motivates resentment among your children, with the more successful ones possibly feeling penalized for only being left with a smaller portion of your estate. Giving everyone equal shares reduces the odds of fights springing up.

Assign one child to be the executor, preferably someone who is highly skilled in the finance or legal field. In addition, give certain roles to everyone in the will as well to make them feel included.

If you are giving money to one or all of your children, specify in the will whether it is a gift or a loan. If it’s the latter, decide if it should be dissolved or repaid to the estate, and make sure to include your decision to your will. Not clarifying this issue will surely result in conflicts and fights.

Make a plan about family heirlooms as well, such as jewelry. With or without monetary value, heirlooms can be a cause of fights because of their sentimental value. That said, state what will be done to these items in your family meeting agenda and in your last will.

For Heirs

Lawyer showing woman a document

If a family member has died without a will, being informed about the law will help avoid conflict. If you are the spouse of the deceased, you are the first in line to inherit their entire estate. However, if you have children that aren’t the deceased’s, you cannot be entitled to the whole estate. Instead, you will be entitled to the intestate’s personal effects, a statutory legacy payment, and the remnants of the estate.

If the deceased has no surviving spouse but has children, the estate will be distributed among them equally. The rest of the eligible relatives can only inherit the estate if the deceased has left no spouse or children. It should follow the order as previously mentioned.

Considering all of these things, the importance of estate planning is further emphasized. While there is still time, discuss it with your children and other heirs to avoid family relations going downhill after you pass away.

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