Making a Will is a vital part of adult life, but a surprising number of people neglect to do it. A recent study found that 31 million UK adults haven’t made a Will. This means that nearly half the population are currently at risk of dying intestate (dying without a Will).
What Happens If You Die Without A Will?
If you die without a Will, you have no say over who gets what. Instead, the allocation of your assets is decided by a strict set of laws:
• Only spouses, close relatives and civil partners are eligible to inherit. If there is a surviving spouse or civil partner and surviving children, the spouse or partner takes priority. They will receive the first £250,000 as well as 50% of the remainder.
• If the deceased was not married or in a civil partnership, but does have surviving children, these children will receive equal shares of the estate. The amount that children or grandchildren are entitled to varies depending on where you live in the UK.
• Long term partners and step-children are not eligible to inherit under the rules of intestacy, but adopted children are.
• Joint assets are not subject to intestacy rules and will instead pass directly into the ownership of the surviving partner. This only applies if you are ‘joint tenants’, not ‘tenants in common’.
• If you die with no close relatives, your entire estate will be given to the Crown under the law of Bona Vacantia.
• People who inherit under intestacy laws are likely to pay more inheritance tax than those who inherit via a Will.
What Are The Advantages Of Making A Will?
Making a Will ensures that your wishes are honoured when you die. You can decide who gets what based on the strength of your relationships rather than arbitrary legal criteria. This is especially important if you want to take care of your children, as intestacy laws will heavily favour your spouse.
Making a Will is also the considerate thing to do. Dying without a Will subjects your family to a lot of stress at an already difficult time. The intestacy process can be slow and frustrating, not to mention expensive if your relatives have to hire a solicitor. An intestate death can also cause arguments in the family over who inherits what, which is not the sort of legacy most people want to leave behind.
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