In November 2020, Argentinian football icon, Diego Maradona died at the age of 60 leaving behind at least eight children to six different women, a portfolio of properties, image rights and an amphibious tank. What can we learn though? Maradona is reported to have died intestate, that is, without a Will, meaning a Court battle may arise about who obtains what share of his fortune which would be costly and could go on for years.
It appears that the estate will be determined under Argentinian law, which is quite different to how the estate would be divided or approached under Australian or Victorian estate law. There is an estate it has been reported of about $75m-$100m USD and all of his children may be vying for a piece of the estate.
While Australian law is quite different to Argentinian, there are similarities in that without a Will, you have no say over who is entitled to obtain any benefit from your estate.
What happens when you don’t have a Will?
If you pass away without leaving a valid Will, you will have died “intestate” and your estate will be dealt with according to the laws of intestacy.
Who will deal with my estate?
One of the functions of a Will is to appoint an executor who is responsible for the administration of your estate. Without a valid Will, the court will need to appoint an ‘administrator’ to act. As the court needs to be involved in this process, it may become costly. Sometimes this is a relative or loved one, sometimes this is a neutral government organisation.
What happens to my assets?
In Victoria, the laws of intestacy are found in the Administration and Probate Act 1958 (Vic) and, depending on your family circumstances, sets out how your estate is to be distributed in order of priority. By not having a Will, you have no control on who you would like to benefit from your estate and the decision is made for you.
The potential issue with an estate such as Maradona’s would have here in Australia, is that the division of a property-based Estate among beneficiaries can be difficult, especially if those assets are not deal with in a Will. If an estate is cash poor but asset rich, it would be likely that if parties to the estate cannot come an agreement, the estate would be valued and possibly sold off. This can lead to delays and large administrative costs.
What does this mean for you?
While you may not have the wealth or family complications of Maradona, everyone has something or someone that is important to them which should be protected in a Will. If you don’t have a Will, not only will lose control over important decisions, it could mean:
- You cannot provide any direction as to who will be guardian of your children;
- Your children or grandchildren may not have any protection and will not benefit from your estate;
- Partners, stepchildren, friends or other loved ones may not benefit from your estate;
- Your estate may be dealt with by someone you would otherwise not have appointed;
- Your estate may bear greater legal costs; or
- Your estate may not be handled in the most tax effective way.
What should you do?
Regardless of your asset pool or value, everyone over the age of 18 years should consider making a Will, or, if you already have a Will, you should be reviewing it to ensure that it still reflects your wishes. Our Wills and Estates Lawyers in Melbourne can assist you with your Will and can be contacted on 03 9614 7111 or emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.