Who will inherit if a person dies without a will?

The first in line to inherit will be the spouse and then the children of the deceased, or a combination of the two depending on the size of the estate. A de facto partner can also inherit in the same way a spouse does if the de facto partnership can be proven. Not leaving a will places an unnecessary burden on the surviving de facto partner to prove the existence of the relationship, something that could easily be avoided by nominating the person as a beneficiary in a will instead.

If a person is married and has no children, a share of the estate can also go to the deceased’s parents, depending on the value of the estate, which may be contrary to the wishes of the deceased if they intended for their spouse/partner to inherit the whole of their estate.

If a person does not have a spouse/partner or children, other family members like parents, siblings and aunts and uncles will be next in line to inherit the estate. This can also be contrary to the wishes of a person if they were estranged from their family during their lifetime.

If no relatives can be found, the estate will be claimed by the State.