What does not form part of your estate?

Jointly owned assets

Any properties you own with another person as a joint tenant will not be included in your estate.

When a joint tenant of a property dies then the person’s interest in the property gets transferred automatically to the surviving joint tenant.  This works in the same way for bank accounts, shares etc.  If the asset is held jointly, the account is transferred to the surviving asset holder regardless of what the deceased’s will says.

Trusts and companies

A trust is a separate legal entity and is under the control of the trustee or a subsequent trustee appointed after your death (if you were the trustee).

Assets owned by discretionary trusts, unit trust or companies controlled by you do not form part of your estate.

However, any shares in the company or units that you own in a trust, are considered your assets and will be included in your estate and distributed in accordance with your Will.

Assets owned by existing discretionary trusts such as a family trust also do not form part of your estate.


Most of the time superannuation benefits and life insurance associated with your superannuation are not considered an estate asset.

You can have a nominated beneficiary, binding or not, allocated on your superannuation account.  The estate can be nominated as a beneficiary and in that case does form part of your estate.

However, the superannuation company holds the discretion to make the decision as to who the funds are paid to.


We can usually draft a will that ensures that any assets owned by these entities are distributed in accordance with your Will or we can give you strategies on how to deal with joint assets.


If you would like to discuss any of these matters or would like assistance, please contact our office on 9707 1155 or admin@wslegal.com.au.