Let’s start with a clear piece of advice. If you haven’t yet made a Will, please make arrangements to get one drawn up. Whether you're young or old, doing this one thing will save your loved ones, and those who you want to benefit from your estate, a lot of heartache and expense.
What is Intestacy?
Intestacy means dying without a Will. By not legally stating how you want your estate to be distributed the Rules of Intestacy come into play. Not only that but issues such as applying for Letters of Administration and Inheritance Tax become much more complex. Dying without a Will makes life complicated for those who need to administer your estate.
What Does Dying Intestate Mean?
It means you haven’t stated who you want to benefit from your estate when you’re gone. It also leaves an intricate, expensive and potentially divisive situation for your family and loved ones. Even if you have promised people in your life something to remember you by, without a Will a verbal assurance is, as the saying goes; ‘not worth the paper it’s written on’.
In short, failure to make a Will leaves those who survive you at the mercy of the Intestacy Rules.
What are the Rules of Intestacy?
In England and Wales, there is a statutory set of rules, updated in October 2014, that are enforced if you die intestate. These rules mean your estate may be distributed in a way you would not want or expect.
Currently, the rules state that your spouse/civil partner will inherit the first £250,000 of your estate and your possessions. Then, even if you have children, your spouse/civil partner will also receive half of what remains. Spouses/civil partners are also granted all joint assets including property and bank accounts which do not form part of the estate. The rest will be divided amongst all the deceased’s children whether from the current marriage or previous relationships.
If you leave less than the above amounts or don’t have children, your spouse/civil partner will inherit everything.
WhatIf I’m Not Married?
Your estate will be divided amongst your children, or otherwise to any living parents and grandparents, siblings, half-brothers and sisters or even cousins. In extreme cases, your estate may go to relatives you’ve never met, or ones you don’t care for.
The intestacy rules become even more complex depending on the extent of the family you leave behind. There are no allowances for step-children, friends, carers, neighbours or charities you may want to benefit from your estate.
How Can Your Estate Be Protected?
Ensuring that your estate will not be subject to the Rules of Intestacy is simple: make sure you’ve got a legally binding Will in place before you die. You can do this at any time. Happily, an increasing number of younger people (especially those with children) are preparing Wills. This is a good thing.
...and don't forget should you have changes in your life that might affect your Will you can easily get it updated to reflect your new circumstances.
Don’t Die Intestate!
Our core message here is to ensure that you make a Will.
In most cases, it’s a simple and cost-effective process. Better still, it comes with the bonus of peace of mind at no extra cost. While you may not feel comfortable with planning your last days once it's done, you can get on with living your life to the full.
Please feel free to contact Mr Probate on 0203 389 8469 or 0161 342 1409 should you have any further questions.