Passing Away Without a Will – It is Much More Common Than You Think!

11 DEC 2020


You may think that executing a Will at some point in your lifetime is a standard item on the average person’s to-do-list, much like obtaining insurance for your house would be. The prevalence of people passing away without executing a Will is much more common than most people think.

A recent survey conducted by Finder has concluded that 52% of adult Australians do not have a Will in place.  This means that these people have not expressed how the gifting of their Estate will unfold after their death and, as a result, the legislation will dictate the distribution of their assets. The survey found that most people have making a Will on their to-do-list but just haven’t got around to doing it.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the majority of people who do not have Wills in place are not overly high earners and therefore the notion of Estate planning would not be front of mind, however it is seemingly a common occurrence to see high earners pass away without any Estate planning in place.  Examples of A-List celebrities who, notwithstanding their incredibly high earnings, never executed a Will include:

Jimi Hendrix – one of, if not the, greatest guitarist of all time did not have a Will when he died at the age of 27 years in 1970.  The legal proceedings in relation to the administration of the Estate carried on for over 30 years.

Prince – when Prince died in 2016 he had an estimated worth of approximately US$300million, he did not have a Will. The Estate litigation is ongoing with an estimated US$10million dollars spent in legal fees.

Abraham Lincoln – the 16th President of the United States of America, and one time lawyer, did not have a Will at the time of his assassination in 1865. His Estate was eventually settled after two years.

Martin Luther King Jr – the civil rights activist’s Estate has been in and out of Court since he was assassinated without a Will in 1968.

The consequences of passing away without a Will is that your Estate will not pass according to your wishes, but will rather pass according to the Rules of Intestacy .  These Rules stipulate a specific guide to the distribution of an Estate with no Will.  This may also result in the Estate being subjected to claims by beneficiaries who have missed out as a result of the Rules of Intestacy, which will incur further costs and time.

To discuss your Estate queries, please contact our Estate Planning Department on 02 4626 5077 or via email at

The contents of this publication are for reference purposes only. This publication does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Specific legal advice should always be sought separately before taking any action based on this publication.

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