What happens to your property if you die suddenly






It does happen  


What happens to your property if you die suddenly and have not made a will is a question often raised in real estate. It is more often asked by young people as they may see the probability of death as lower.


Both vendors and purchasers are interested in this and outlining what might happen if you die suddenly without a valid will (intestate) may be useful. How the distribution of your property will be governed by the laws of intestacy outlined in the Administration and Probate Act 1958 (Victoria).


General overview of what happens to your property in such circumstances:


Administration of the Estate – When someone dies intestate, the Supreme Court of Victoria typically appoints an administrator to manage the deceased person’s estate. The administrator’s role is similar to that of an executor under a will, but they are appointed by the court rather than nominated by the deceased.


Distribution of assets – The distribution of your assets will generally follow a statutory order of priority, which typically prioritizes surviving family members. Here is a simplified outline of how assets are distributed under Victorian intestacy laws:


  • Spouse and children: If you have a surviving spouse (including de facto partners) and children, they will usually inherit the estate. The specific distribution depends on the value of the estate and whether the children are also the children of the surviving spouse.


  • No children: If there are no surviving children, the entire estate typically passes to the surviving spouse.


  • No spouse or children: If there is no surviving spouse or children, the estate may pass to other family members such as parents, siblings, or more distant relatives, depending on the circumstances.


  • Minor children: If you have minor children, the court may appoint a guardian to take care of them. This appointment is usually based on the best interests of the children and may not necessarily align with who inherits your property.


  • Special circumstances: In some cases, if there are no identifiable heirs (for example, if a person has no living relatives), the estate may eventually escheat to the state of Victoria.




The type of title you have on the property is also important. Married couples often enter into joint tenant title meaning the property automatically is inherited by the surviving partner. Tenants in Common title allow the property owners to will their potion to whomever they choose – not necessarily a joint owner. A simple but important note on the title that informs who inherits the property.


To conclude


To ensure that your property is distributed according to your wishes and to avoid potential complications or disputes among family members, it’s highly recommended to create a valid will. A will allows you to specify exactly how you want your estate to be distributed, appoint an executor to carry out your wishes, and potentially address other matters such as guardianship of minor children and funeral arrangements.


Consulting with a solicitor or legal professional who specializes in estate planning in Victoria can provide you with tailored advice and ensure that your will is drafted under relevant laws and regulations. This proactive approach can provide peace of mind that your wishes will be respected and your estate managed as you intend.