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Who Inherits Your Estate According to the NSW Succession Act

Updated: Jan 8

If you die without a will, your estate will not be automatically passed to the Crown (i.e. State). According to the Succession Act 2006 (NSW), your estate will be inherited by eligible family members and relatives in a certain order. However, if you do not have any eligible family member or relative, then your estate will belong to the Crown.


Photograph by Ingo Joseph


If You Have an Existing Spouse or Partner

If you have a spouse/partner at the time of death, then it needs to be considered whether you have any existing children and whether they are the biological children of your spouse:

  • If you have an existing spouse/partner but no children, your spouse will be fully entitled to your inheritance;

  • If you have an existing spouse/partner and your children are the biological children of you and your spouse, your spouse will be fully entitled to your inheritance;

  • If you have an existing spouse/partner but your children are not the biological children of either yourself or your spouse, your inheritance will be distributed to both parties;

  • If you have multiple partners, your inheritance will be distributed to all parties.


If You Have Children but No Spouse or Partner

If you do not have a spouse/partner nor a will, the order of inheritance will depend on the number of children and grandchildren you have:

  • If you have more than one existing children, your inheritance will be distributed to all parties equally;

  • If you have both existing and deceased children, your inheritance will be distributed equally to your children as well as your grandchildren (i.e. children of the deceased individuals).


If You Have No Spouse, Partner or Children

If you do not have a spouse/partner or children, and you do not have a will at the time of death, your estate will be inherited by the following persons in the order below:

  1. Parents;

  2. Siblings;

  3. Nephews and nieces;

  4. Grandparents;

  5. Uncles and aunts;

  6. First cousins.


It is always better to prepare a will, this will ensure that your estate will be distributed according to your wishes. In addition to your family, you may also choose to benefit your favourite charity, a friend or a distant relative. In your will, you can stipulate:

  • Who is the heir to your estate;

  • How to distribute your estate;

  • How to manage estate distributed to a child under 18 years of age;

  • Who will execute your will and how it should be executed.

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