THE INTESTACY GRENADE
Updated: Sep 23
Anyone born before 1980 is aware, and probably concerned, about the Pensions Timebomb. The fact that the population is ageing as fewer children are born while seniors are living longer, means that the funding for the retirement of all “post-earning” people is increasingly seen as challenging, to say the least.
But there is another under-recognised explosive device in the pipeline that I’m calling the INTESTACY GRENADE. The word “intestacy” or “intestate” has nothing to do with going from NSW to WA or male reproductive functions, it means “dying without a will”.
A grenade is an explosive device that blows up when the holder takes out the safety pin and lobs it at the target. In other words, someone must make the decision to use it, and then take out the pin before throwing it. But the thrower can make it safe by putting the pin back in. It could also be called UXO – unexploded ordnance – the term used for a bomb or device that has been hidden from sight for years or decades but has the potential for mass destruction. Usually, the Bomb Squad must be called to defuse such devices, and it’s not always successful.
Half of the adult population of Australia has no Will and dying without one can leave massive problems for those left behind. Sole name bank accounts are frozen, property cannot be transferred easily without an expensive legal process, the mortgage may go unpaid, and there may even be problems in paying for the funeral. Banks are helpful in these situations but there may be costs involved. Lawyers are there to sort everything out, but it will almost certainly take more than a year at best, and perhaps much longer, to get a court approved grant of Administration to allow the estate to be settled. All of which adds to the cost.
The best way to avoid the potential destruction involved is to defuse all such devices before they go off. Everyone has seen the films in which the hero or heroine sweats over whether she should cut the blue or the red wire. As the clock ticks down to ONE SECOND LEFT she makes an educated guess…and the kindergarten is saved just in time. Phew!
Such drama is great when watching a movie or TV but most of us want a quieter life, and all of us want to look after our families and loved ones. So, avoid the Grenade, avoid the UXO.
Make a Will. Make it now. Do not put it off, because 40,000 people die prematurely in Australia every year and HALF of them die intestate.
The best time to plant a tree may be ten years ago, but the second-best time is today. The best time to make a Will is when you become an adult, but the second-best time is today.
We put off the task for many reasons but there are two key excuses:
- It’s too expensive and inconvenient…“I’ve got to take time off work to visit a lawyer’s office a couple of times, and pay a big chunk of cash although I have simple wishes”.
- “I’m not planning on passing on from this world any time soon so I can put off making a will until next week/month/year”.
That mindset can and must change to stop the grenade exploding and hurting your loved ones. Nor is it necessary to make a Will in the traditional manner of going to a physical lawyer’s office and paying a nice wad of dollars for the pleasure, knowing that the document will need to be reviewed and updated several times as circumstances change. Technology, security and the whole pandemic-driven environment are pushing this archaic process into the 21st century and new solutions are available.
Between 160-170,000 people die in Australia every year. Around 25% of these die prematurely (under the age of 70) and half of these die will-less. Add those who pass on without a will over the age of 70 and you get a figure of 30-40,000 who die intestate. If each such case affects three or four others (not just spouse, partner or children, but also siblings, parents and relatives) then somewhere in the region of 200,000 people can be impacted every year. Over any given five-year period, that’s a MILLION people affected by something entirely avoidable…people who suffer costs, delays and distress.
The population of this country is growing and by some estimates will reach 40m by the year 2050. It is also aging and if the problem of intestacy is not recognised and tackled now, the number of those affected by this preventable issue will explode. Please put the pin back in the grenade. Ask yourself and those close to you three questions: - Do you have a Will? - Is it up to date? - If necessary, can your family and/or executors find it? If any of the answers is NO, then take action to defuse the UXO for your family and loved so that they don’t have to sweat over the blue or the red wire when the time comes. No-one wants to see the kids get hurt.
The author is the founder of https://willhq.com/ and is on a mission to prevent the Intestacy Grenade exploding in Australia…and beyond.
Contact Brendan Murphy | email@example.com | 0415 159 904 | willhQ.com