It is estimated that over 50% of adults in the UK have not made a Will. It is a remarkable figure, particularly as many of those people are also homeowners. So what happens if you die without a Will?
It is important to be aware of what can happen if you die without a Will and the problems that may arise.
Should you die without a Will, your estate will be distributed in accordance with the rules of intestacy. This means that only married or civil partners and certain close relations can inherit from your estate.
If you are married or in a civil partnership with children:
Your surviving partner will receive all your personal belongings, a statutory legacy of £270,000 and half of the remaining estate. Your children will receive the other half (in equal shares if there is more than one child).
If you are married or in a civil partnership without children:
Your surviving partner will inherit everything.
But I am separated from my partner?
Unless you are divorced, your former partner will still inherit from your estate. Therefore, if you have a new partner or other relatives/friends/charities you would prefer to benefit from your estate, it is essential you make a Will.
I do not have a surviving married or civil partner?
Your children will inherit your entire estate upon reaching the age of 18 or if they marry or enter a civil partnership before the age of 18. If there is more than one child, they will inherit in equal shares.
What about my grandchildren?
Your grandchildren would only inherit from your estate if their parents predeceased you or die before reaching the age of 18 without marrying or entering a civil partnership. It is therefore important to make a Will if you would like your grandchildren to receive a cash legacy and/or a share of your estate.
What if I have no surviving partners, children or grandchildren?
- Your relatives may still inherit from your estate but only in the following order:
- Brothers and sisters
- Half-brothers and sisters
- Aunts and uncles
- Half-aunts and uncles
What if there are no relatives to inherit?
Your estate will pass to the Crown. The Crown has the discretion to make provision for dependents or those who might reasonably have expected provision under a Will but you will have no control over the exact distribution and who benefits. Only making a Will can give you this control. You can also include “calamity” provisions in the Will for a situation where there are no surviving relatives. For example, you could leave your estate to a charity of your choice.
If you are still wondering whether you should make a Will or if it is the right time to prepare one, the answer is quite simply yes! Making a Will ensures that your estate will be distributed in accordance with your wishes and gives you the peace of mind that your closest relatives and dependents will be taken care of after you are gone.
It is also important that your Will is overseen by a professional who can ensure that it is properly executed and valid. Your estate may still be subject to the rules of intestacy if your Will is later found to be invalid.
If you would like to discuss making a Will then do not hesitate to contact one of our Wills and Probate Team at Josiah Hincks Solicitors.
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