If a person dies without a valid Will, he or she dies “intestate”. Some examples of situations where an intestacy may occur:
- after making a valid Will (that has not been made in contemplation of marriage or divorce) a person divorces or marries;
- the person never made a valid Will;
- if the person making the Will is of unsound mind or mentally incapable at the time of making his or her Will; and
- if the Will is damaged to the extent that it cannot be read or interpreted.
If a person dies intestate, the intestacy legislation determines the distribution of that person’s estate.
In Western Australia, the governing legislation is the Administration Act 1903, which applies to both real estate and the personal estate of the deceased.
De facto partners of any sex now have inheritance rights under the Administration Act 1903 (WA). In order for this to apply you will need to establish that your relationship was a de facto relationship. If you lived as a de facto partner with the deceased for at least two years immediately before their death you are now entitled to share in the estate in certain circumstances.
In Western Australia, the estate of a person who dies intestate may be distributed between:
- the deceased’s spouse (including a spouse, separated spouse and de facto partner);
- the deceased’s children; and
- in some cases, other relatives of the deceased (e.g. parents, siblings, grandchildren, etc).
Persons not entitled to benefit under the intestacy rules include:
- relatives by marriage other than a spouse;
- step-children; and
- any person economically dependent upon the deceased who does not fall into one of the other relationships.
If there is no person entitled to an intestate property, his or her estate passes to the Crown (government).