Frequently Asked Questions

1.    What happens if I die without a Will? Does it go to the Government?


2.    What happens if a person dies suddenly and it is unknown if they have a        valid Will?


3.     Can I make changes to my Will at any time?


4.     What role can Public Trustee play in managing someone’s financial and          legal affairs?


5.     What does a Financial Administrator do?

6.     What does a Manager do?


7.      What does an Attorney do?


8.       What are the differences and the roles performed by the South           Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT), Public Advocate           and Public Trustee in protecting vulnerable clients?


9.      How can I protect myself from financial abuse?


10.     What does Public Trustee charge to manage a customer’s financial



If someone dies without a Will, South Australian Laws dictate how the estate will be distributed. If a person dies without a Will the person is said to have died ‘intestate’. 

If a person has died intestate and has left an estate that requires administration (for example, real estate or substantial funds in bank accounts) the estate is dealt with in accordance with the South Australian laws of intestacy. 

These laws set out very clearly which family members will benefit from the estate.

•    If you die leaving a spouse or domestic partner and children and the net value of the estate is less than $100,000.00 the spouse or domestic partner is entitled to the whole estate.

•    If the value of the estate is greater than $100,000.00 the spouse or domestic partner is entitled to all personal chattels (including motor vehicle) and the first $100,000.00 of the estate. Any amount over $100,000.00 is split 50/50 between the spouse/domestic partner and the children of the deceased. The children’s entitlement is divided into equal shares.

•    If a person dies with a spouse or domestic partner and no children the spouse/domestic partner will be entitled to the whole of the estate (to be deemed a domestic partner you must satisfy the legal requirements which must be verified through a court order)

•    If a person dies without leaving a spouse/domestic partner or children, then the estate is then distributed as follows:
o    Equally between parent (s) however if both parents predeceased then;
o    Equally between-brothers and sisters however if one of these should predecease then his or her share is divided equally between his or her children. However if all brothers and sisters and their children are predeceased or they have no brother or sister then;
o    Equally between grandparent (s) however if both grandparents are predeceased then;
o    Equally between brothers and sisters of the parent (s) (uncles and aunts), however if one of these should predecease then his or her share is divided equally between his or her children.

Where no living relatives can be located through extensive genealogy searching Public Trustee makes application to the court to be appointed administrator. If after seven years the Public Trustee has been unable to locate any beneficiaries the funds are transferred to the State Government’s Unclaimed Money Fund. However if an eligible relatives is located or comes forward at a later time the funds can be returned from the Unclaimed Money Fund and paid to the beneficiary.

Under the laws of intestacy where a beneficiary is are under the age of 18 years or lacks mental capacity, their share must be paid to Public Trustee to hold in trust until they are 18 years of age or during the period of incapacity.

© 2020 by Alliance for the Prevention of Elder Abuse.