It is unthinkable. Losing one parent is difficult enough, but to lose both? What happens if both of your parents die at the same time? In the majority of cases, a person leaves their estates to their spouse first and then to their children. It becomes more complicated when there are children from multiple relationships. For example, if a couple chooses their secondary inheritor as their own children but excludes their partner’s children from the Will. It’s a complex situation, and it comes up more often than people realise. With the rise of blended families, contesting a Will is more common. Before you can set about challenging a Will, you need to know where you stand.

What Happens If Two Parents Die At The Same Time?

Whose Will comes into play? For the answer, we must look to the Succession Act 2006. When two parents die at the same time, the law deems the younger partner to have died second. Therefore, the younger parent’s Will is the Will that is applied. The younger person would have inherited the estate the elder partner left, and so the beneficiaries of the younger persons’ Will are to inherit the property and assets. 

There are more complicated aspects of the act, including Section 35. This allows the law to classify one party as dead, though they may still be alive. For example, Leanne and Paul are in a serious accident where Paul dies instantly. His will leaves everything to Leanne. If Leanne dies within 29 days of Paul’s death, she is classed as having died before him and could therefore be ineligible to inherit his estate. However, if she dies on the 30th day, she can inherit his estate and, it then passes to her beneficiaries. 

Family structures are more complicated now, which is why it is always wise to enlist the services of Estate Litigation Lawyers if you feel you have been treated unfairly. You want a reliable Will and Estate Lawyer who will provide you with accurate advice on how best to proceed. They can advise you whether a Will Estate dispute is the right move and whether you are likely to succeed in your bid. It is for this reason you should seek expert advice when writing your Will(s). 

A specialist can help you identify the pitfalls surrounding your specific circumstances. It can ensure the estate is distributed to your exact wishes, even if both parties were to die at the same time. Such as specifically excluding the Succession Act’s Section 35. You want your will to be legally airtight, and it should cover a variety of circumstances to avoid a will dispute. You can’t control how things unfold after you are gone, but by ensuring your will has considered everything, you can prevent will disputes and protect the family relationships. 

What Happens To Assets?

The assets are inherited by the beneficiaries of whoever’s Will takes precedence. So, if Paul and Leanne had two children together, and two children each from previous relationships, the two children together and Leanne’s two children would inherit. In this case, Paul’s children would be left out of the inheritance. 

In the case of joint property, it doesn’t matter who died first or if there are seconds or years between deaths. If someone inherits joint-owned property and dies, their estate is the one to benefit from the property. This is when complicated family structures often come into play. If there are children from previous relationships, they can be left out of this equation. Say that Paul and Leanne had joint property holdings as well as several older children from prior relationships. If Paul dies before Leanne, whether by seconds or decades, Leanne inherits that property and upon her death, it passes to her beneficiaries. The same is true if Leanne passes before Paul, his beneficiaries benefit. In these cases, the Inheritance Family Provision Act may not allow for a claim. 

It’s impossible to predict which partner will die first, so it’s important to have a professionally prepared Will that factors in every possible circumstance surrounding your unique situation. It may feel like a complicated puzzle, but it will be more complex if you don’t adequately address it now. You may want to discuss provisions for all of your children in both Wills to ensure that everyone is treated equally and the family remains intact after parental deaths.

How AJB Stevens Can Help

If you believe you have been left out of a Will unfairly or that you were entitled to more, Deceased Estate Lawyers can help you find grounds to challenge a Will. If you require expert advice to determine your next steps regarding a Will dispute, then AJB Stevens can help. Losing a parent is painful enough but dealing with estates after the fact doesn’t need to be.