There are new changes to the laws of intestacy in Western Australia are being considered in Parliament.

The proposed changes will affect many spouses and families of persons in Western Australia who die intestate (i.e. without a valid will).

The Administration Amendment Bill 2018 (WA) was introduced into the Western Australian Parliament on 27 June 2018.  The amendments intended are three-fold:

  • firstly, to increase the statutory legacy provided to a spouse under section 14 of the Administration Act 1903;
  • secondly, to increase the parental statutory legacy under section 14; and
  • thirdly, to introduce a new provision (section 14A) with formula for calculating the amount of statutory legacies from time to time in the future.

These changes will, in the first instance, increase the current statutory legacy for surviving spouses or parents of a person dying intestate by 8.67 times where, under the current laws, such amounts are relatively modest.

The new formula will allow the Minister to change these amounts by an issue of an order based on the estimate of an average weekly earnings of full-time adult employees in Australia, such amounts being indexed every six months.

This is good news for surviving spouses and parents. However, it does pose a question whether the change is too generous for spouses at the expense of other potential beneficiaries.

For a typical person who dies intestate with a surviving spouse and children, the first $435,000 of the deceased estate will be distributed to the spouse.  Similarly, if there is instead, no children, but surviving spouses and parents (and siblings), the first $650,000 will go to the surviving spouse.

There will, no doubt, be circumstances where these changes will likely be inconsistent with the wishes of the deceased person – be it the unintended ‘de facto’ spouse who have just ‘snuck’ in to meet the requirements in order to benefit or the desire to assist the surviving parents more financially over the spouse.

These changes, again, highlight the importance of having a valid Will which reflects your testamentary wishes.  According to the Public Trustee, there are over 50% of adults in Australia who do not have in place a valid will.

At Provident Lawyers, we encourage our clients to:

  • firstly, ensure that they have in place a valid will which reflects their testamentary wishes; and
  • secondly, regularly review their wills to ensure that any change to their testamentary wishes are included.

If you would like assistance with preparing your Will or reviewing your Will, do not hesitate to contact us to discuss how we can assist you.

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