What Happens If a Relative Dies Without Making a Will?

January 13, 2023


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An estate planning lawyer is able to provide assistance making preparations for your estate affairs. In addition to assisting in the preparation of a Will, an estate planning lawyer can also advise you as to the applicability or necessity for other devices such as powers of attorney, enduring guardian appointments and advanced healthcare directives.

What happens if someone dies without a will?

Dying without a Will is known as dying ‘intestate’ per the Succession Act 2006 NSW (‘Succession Act’). If someone dies without a will their assets are dealt with in accordance with the Succession Act. An estate planning lawyer can assist you in making the relevant application, called an application for Letters of Administration, to the Supreme Court. The Court will generally grant administration to the person with the strongest familial connection to the deceased, such as a spouse or any children. An administrator will be appointed to distribute the deceased’s estate in accordance with the Succession Act.


I am 56 years old. My niece has recently died and hadn’t made a Will before she passed away. She does not have a spouse, or kids, and her parents died a few years ago. Am I entitled to any of her estate?”


An aunt or uncle may be the sole beneficiary of a deceased who died intestate and may therefore be appointed as the administrator of the estate once the Court has granted Letters of Administration. Section 131 of the Succession Act states that so long as the deceased does not leave a spouse, parent, siblings or grandparent, their aunt or uncle is entitled to the whole of the estate. If the deceased had more than one aunt or uncle, the estate will be divided between them equally. 

It should be noted that each state and territory have their own laws, which may differ from the NSW legislation.


Whilst dying without a Will is relatively common and is not an obstacle to the division of an estate, preparing a Will is a straightforward process, one in which estate planning lawyers at Carneys have extensive experience. Having a will gives you control over how your assets are to be distributed once you die. 

Estate planning can seem daunting, but it is helpful for the loved ones you leave behind. The estate planning lawyers at Carneys Lawyers will be able to help you navigate the process of writing a will OR seeking to apply for letters of administration to distribute the assets of a relative who died without creating a will.