Simultaneous deaths – Wills & Estates

What happens if spouses or family members die at the same time?

Our clients often ask this question – what happens if I die at the same time as my spouse or family member? Although it’s not exactly a pleasant thought, the reality is that no-one can predict the future and accidents do happen. That’s why its important to have a Will.

Whose Will takes effect?

If two people pass away in an accident at the same time and it is not possible to determine the order in which they died, the law deems the older person to have died first. This affects how their Wills are interpreted.

At law, beneficiaries must also survive the testator (or Will-maker) by 30 days. So if a beneficiary does not outlive the testator by 30 days, the Will takes effect as if that beneficiary had died before the testator. The beneficiary would not receive a gift under the Will – it would pass on to the next beneficiaries.

It follows that if a couple passes away within 30 days of each other, the older person’s Will would take effect.

The solution?

Having alternate executors and alternate beneficiaries can solve the issue of what happens to your estate if unfortunately family members pass away at the same time. Couples can also make mirror Wills that reflect the same intention, so that if anything should happen to both of them, there is still certainty that the people closest to them will be provided for.

What’s in your Will?

If you have any questions about your current Will or wish to update it, speak to one of our lawyers today on 02 9687 8885 and we can provide you with an obligation free quote.