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26 Nov 2018

Proposed changes to the Administration Act 1903 (WA)

If you die without leaving a valid will, you are said to have died ‘intestate’ and your estate will be distributed in accordance with the Administration Act 1903 (WA).

On 27 June 2018, a bill was introduced into Parliament to reform the Western Australian intestacy laws set out in the Administration Act. These proposed changes will have a significant effect on what happens to a person’s estate if they die without a valid will.

Currently, section 14 of the Administration Act provides formulas for the distribution of a person’s estate if they die without a valid will:

  1. a surviving spouse or de facto partner is entitled to the household chattels, the first $50,000 of the estate and one-third of the balance of the estate and any children will equally share the remaining two-thirds of the estate;
  2. if a person dies without leaving children, a surviving partner will be entitled to the first $75,000 of the estate and one half of the balance, with the remaining half of the estate distributed amongst the parents and siblings of the deceased.

Each year, approximately one quarter of estates administered in Western Australia rely on these provisions because people die without a valid will or their wills are defective. The current formulas were last updated in 1982 and do not make sufficient provision for a surviving spouse or partner.

Some of the overdue changes proposed by the Amendment Bill are:

  1. a surviving partner is entitled to the household chattels, the first $435,000 of the estate and one-third of the balance of the estate and any children will share equally the remaining two-thirds of the estate;
  2. if a person dies without leaving children; a surviving partner will be entitled to the first $650,000 of the estate and one half of the balance, with the remaining half of the estate distributed amongst the parents and siblings of the deceased.

These changes are to ensure a surviving spouse or partner is adequately provided for and will bring Western Australia’s legislation in line with Australia’s other states and territories.

Although these changes are on the horizon, it is far better to have a valid will in place to adequately deal with your estate upon your death — in the manner that you want, rather than relying on statutory provisions setting out the distribution of your estate.

We have experienced lawyers at HHG Legal Group who can assist you with your estate planning needs. If you don’t have a will or require a review of your current will, we will ensure your wishes regarding your estate are properly documented. Please contact our Wills and Estate Planning team on (08) 9322 1966 with your queries.