A family tree can be useful, with or without a will

Why do a family tree?

family tree, wills, inheritance, intestate, intestacy,

A family tree is a record of information about family relationships. It is useful to have a basic outline of close family/next of kin relationships to keep with your personal papers.  This maybe unnecessary you might think.

However a family tree can be helpful in preparing to make a will, especially where large, complex estates, blended families and business succession issues are involved. 

Indeed some lawyers ask people to prepare a family tree  ahead of discussions about a will, and estate planning generally.

Having a family tree can be useful where someone has migrated to Australia and have no  family or next of kin here.  It makes administration easier if there is some record of overseas relatives and their contact details.

A family tree can be a useful reference point in some intestacy situations and the rules of intestacy have to be applied.

In this context the family tree need only record the most relevant information.  The extent of relationships depends on personal circumstances.  Where applicable record family/next of kin, for:

  • your spouse or partner (and former ones);
  • children, grandchildren and spouses or partners; step-children,
  • parents;
  • siblings and their spouses or partners;

Note that ‘children’ includes adopted children under the law.  Aunts, uncles and cousins could be added.  In some jurisdictions the intestacy rules extend to cousins.

To get started a simple form can be downloaded here.  This format is really all that is needed in this context, but others can be found on the internet.  For anyone keen to explore their family history and genealogy, the National Library in Canberra has compiled a list of links to valuable sources here.

B Stead
BHS Legal
11 May 2014

Important notice: This article is intended for general interest and information only. It is not legal advice, nor should it be used as a substitute for legal advice. Always consult a legal practitioner and/or other professional for specialist advice specific to your needs and circumstances, and rely on that.

© BHS Legal

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