What happens in the event of simultaneous deaths?


When undertaking estate planning, people often consider how to construct their Wills in the event of their death. But what happens when you and your significant other and children die together at the same time?

Despite being a tragic event, this creates a practical problem in carrying out a Will if it is unclear who died first.

Recently, a husband and wife died in a car accident and there was no evidence to suggest which of the two died first. Both the husband and the wife had ‘mirrored’ Wills providing that if they are not survived by their spouse, the children will benefit from the estate. But the question that remains is who survived who?

The order of death of partners is important in Wills that do not mirror or are not identical.  Parties may anticipate that the younger person will survive the older person and make their Wills accordingly, but this is not always the case.  It is important to take this issue into consideration when estate planning, rather than simply assuming that the older person will pass first.

What happens with jointly held property?

Usually, if people hold property as joint tenants, that is, they share equal ownership of that property, and one of them dies, the survivor will inherit the deceased’s interest. But what happens in the event of simultaneous deaths? Legislation in some Australian jurisdictions (except SA) states that in this scenario, the eldest person is said to have died first.

To overcome the potential difficulties with simultaneous deaths, it is important to draft your Will to avoid this dilemma. If you like to know more about this, speak to one of our experienced staff at Bambrick Legal today.


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