If a person dies without a valid Will, you might wonder what happens to inheritance if there is no Will. Dying without a Will is known as dying intestate, which is not an ideal situation for anyone involved. 

Everyone should have a Will. However, not having one is far more common than you think. The most common reason people die without a Will is inaction. This could include thinking they don’t have sufficient assets to justify having one, or being fearful of discussing death. 

Other causes of an intestacy include the loss of the original Will by the Will-maker or failing to prepare a Will correctly. 

If you or your loved one passes away without a Will, there won’t be any formal instructions left to help determine what happens to the estate. 

In this article, we explain what exactly happens to inheritance if there is no Will, and what to do if you are put in this far from ideal situation. 


Who gets the estate?

If you die without a Will or your Will is invalid, your estate does not automatically pass to the State, as is often assumed. There is no executor and therefore they have died intestate. This means the next of kin (such as a spouse) takes on the role of administering the deceased’s estate. 

In this case, your assets are distributed in line with Part 3 of the Succession Act 1981 (Qld). This sets out the order of what eligible family will inherit your estate. Your estate will only fall to the State if you die without eligible relatives. 

If the person had no partner or children, all the estate goes to these relatives (in order of priority):

  1. Parents
  2. Siblings
  3. Grandparents
  4. Aunts and uncles
  5. Cousins 

How is an intestate estate dealt with?

An application needs to be made to the court seeking an order to appoint an administrator of the estate, referred to as an application for a grant of letters of administration on intestacy. This application is needed because the administration of an estate requires someone to take responsibility and to see it through. 

It is typically the person with the greatest entitlement to the estate that applies for a grant of letters of administration. This is because there is no executor appointed who is able to apply for a grant of probate. 


How to apply for letters of administration (intestacy)

The application process is similar to that for a grant of probate, except there will not be a valid Will. There are a series of steps you need to go through to apply. 

When you submit your application to the Probate Office, you will require the following documents: 

  • The deceased person’s death certificate
  • A confirmation of the estate’s assets and liabilities
  • Proof that you are the closest next of kin
  • Proof of the domestic partner relationship (such as an affidavit or another legal document)
  • An affidavit of applicant for administration

You can read more about exactly what you need to apply for letters of administration (intestacy) here


Always seek legal advice 

If you think you might benefit from a Will, it is always best to get independent legal advice from a solicitor. Having a clearly written and up-to-date will helps ensure that your property and possessions are distributed in accordance with your wishes. 

The Wills and Estates team at Cameron Rogers & Solicitors are experts in administering deceased estates. We offer guidance for each individual circumstance so you can properly and efficiently deal with your estate matter. 

Reach out to us for an obligation free consultation now on 07 5445 1213 or book a consultation



Ask Us Anything!
Not sure what the next step is? Simply fill out the form and we will give you a call to chat through any questions you might have.