Your Will

Pop-icon ‘Prince’ Died Without a Will. What Happens to His Estate?

What happens when a pop-icon dies without a Will? TGB's Fiona Fagan answers this question and other more common questions related to intestacy (dying without a valid Will).

What happens when a pop-icon dies without a Will? TGB’s Fiona Fagan answers this question and other more common questions related to intestacy (dying without a valid Will).


In the wake of the death of pop-icon ‘Prince’ it has been reported that he died without a valid Will. With an estate estimated to value approximately $300 million and no surviving spouse or children, the question is, who gets the money?

According to the laws of intestacy (dying without a Will) in the State of Minnesota, where Prince held his wealth, his accumulated wealth and future profits will be divided between his only surviving immediate sibling and his other surviving half-siblings, of which there are many.

But, what if this happens in Australia?

In Australia each state has it’s own laws on how to deal with an intestate estate, so who shall receive your wealth will depend upon where you live and own assets.

As a general rule your wealth will be distributed based on a priority chain, beginning with any spouse, followed by any children, then onto parents, grand-parents, aunties or uncles and cousins.

Intestate estates in South Australia

There are a number of situations that could play-out should you die intestate in South Australia.

No children:

In South Australia, if you are the spouse of the deceased and the deceased has no children you will receive 100 per cent of the estate.

It is important to note that for de facto couples you will have to first prove your relationship in the Magistrates Court before you can claim what you are entitled to. This is why it is particularly important for same-sex couples to have a Will, as without an order from the court to the contrary, currently they are not recognised by the court as a spouse.

Children:

A set money value ($100,000) will go immediately to the spouse and the remainder will be divided between the spouse and the children.

If children are under the age of 18 the asset pool will be held in trust, meaning it will be held by a Public Trustee until the children are 18. The Public Trustee charges fees for managing this money and any surviving parent will need to deal with the Trustee in all matters related to the money distributed to the children.

If there is no surviving spouse, children, parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles or cousins the estate will go 100 per cent to the government.

Intestate estates in Western Australia

In Western Australia the situation differs in a number of ways.

No children:

Opposed to South Australia and the Northern Territory, a surviving spouse will not receive 100% of the estate automatically. The spouse will receive a set amount of $75,000. The remaining asset pool will be divided between the parents of the deceased, if they are still alive, and then also their siblings.

Word of warning for those without a valid Will in Western Australia- a surviving spouse will have to sell any property in order to pay out the parents of the deceased and any siblings.

Children:

A set money value ($50,000) will go immediately to the spouse and the remainder will be divided between the spouse and the children, where there is more than one child, one third to the spouse and two thirds to the children. Where there is only one child the remainder will be divided evenly between the spouse and the child. Again, a surviving spouse will be required to sell any property in order to pay out the children.

As is the case in South Australia, if the children are not yet 18 this money will be held in trust by a Trustee who may charge fees.

If there is no surviving spouse, children, parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles or cousins the estate will go 100 per cent to the government.

Intestate estates in Northern Territory

No children:

As is the case in South Australia, if you are the spouse of the deceased and the deceased has no children you will receive 100 per cent of the estate.

Children:

A set money value ($200,000) will go immediately to the spouse and the remainder will be divided between the spouse and the children. If there is only one child the spouse will get half of the remaining estate and the child will have the other half. If there is more than one child the spouse will get one third of the remaining estate and all children will share in the remaining two thirds.

If there is no surviving spouse, children, parents, grandparents, aunties and uncles or cousins the estate will go 100 per cent to the government.

Summary 

As you can see the division of an estate, when you do not leave a valid Will, can be quite complex and can mean that your spouse is left in an awkward position having to find money to pay out children, parents and siblings. This probably won’t be a concern with the Prince estate.

Another trap is that marriage will revoke the validity of your Will and therefore you will die intestate, despite having previously had a Will made. You can read more about that situation here.

One sure way to avoid this chaos is to make sure you have a validly drafted Will.

For further information or assistance contact Fiona Fagan, or begin your Will online today.

On August 1, 2017, the Relationships Register commenced in South Australia, giving greater legal recognition to LGBTQI and de facto relationships. To find out how the Register impacts your will click here.