What Is the de Facto Inheritance Law Australia?
In Australia, de facto inheritance laws dictate that if someone in a de facto relationship dies without a will (known as dying “intestate”), their surviving de facto partner has similar inheritance rights to those of a legally married spouse.
This means the surviving partner is entitled to a share of the deceased’s estate, including property, financial assets, and other valuables.
However, the term “de facto” is subject to interpretation, and various factors, such as the length of the relationship, joint financial contributions, and the presence of children, can influence what the surviving partner is entitled to inherit.
Here are some key points about de facto inheritance law Australia:
Intestate Inheritance Rights
When a person dies without a will, their estate is distributed according to a pre-determined legal formula. In such cases, a de facto partner has the same rights to claim a share of the deceased’s estate as a married spouse, including property, money, and other assets.
Key Takeaway: If your de facto partner dies without a will, you have similar inheritance rights to those of a married spouse, which can include property and financial assets.
The Importance of a Will
If the deceased has left a will, then the distribution of assets will be according to that will. However, a de facto partner has the right to contest the will if they believe that it is unfair or does not make reasonable provision for them.
Key Takeaway: Even if there is a will, de facto partners can challenge it if they feel it does not reasonably provide for them.
Things get more complicated if the existence of the de facto relationship is disputed. In such cases, it’s up to the surviving partner to prove the relationship’s authenticity, which can involve presenting evidence like joint financial statements, property ownership, or even social media interactions.
Key Takeaway: If the legitimacy of your de facto relationship is disputed, you may need to provide various forms of evidence to claim your inheritance rights.
Entitlements After Death
The entitlements of a de facto partner after the death of their significant other can vary depending on multiple factors. These include the length of the relationship, the nature and extent of their common residence, whether a sexual relationship exists, financial dependence or interdependence, ownership of property, and the care of children.
Key Takeaway: Your inheritance entitlements as a de facto partner can be influenced by several factors, such as the length of your relationship and financial contributions.
De facto partners can also challenge a will if they believe it does not adequately provide for them. However, contesting a will can be a lengthy and expensive process.
Key Takeaway: Challenging a will is possible but can be both time-consuming and costly.
Because of the complexities involved, seeking professional legal advice is often advisable to navigate the intricacies of de facto inheritance laws. This ensures that all parties understand their rights and obligations, reducing the likelihood of disputes.
Key Takeaway: Due to the complex nature of de facto inheritance law, professional legal advice is highly recommended to safeguard your rights and interests.
Understanding de facto inheritance law in Australia is crucial for anyone in such a relationship. It helps both partners protect their interests and provides a legal safety net in the unfortunate event of a partner’s death.
Being well-informed about these laws allows couples to engage in more effective estate planning, ensuring that both partners’ wishes are respected and carried out.
Additionally, a clear understanding of these laws can minimise the likelihood of contentious legal disputes, saving both emotional strain and financial resources in the long run.
Director of Melbourne Family Lawyers, Hayder manages the practice and oversees the running of all of the files in the practice. Hayder has an astute eye for case strategy and running particularly complex matters in the family law system.