Recent research has suggested that 60% of UK adults haven’t got a valid Will.
If you are married or in a civil partnership and have no children, you can probably get away with not having a Will and you may be “safe” to die without giving it another thought! Any joint assets that you have generally pass to the survivor on death. If you die and haven’t made a Will you have died “intestate”. And yes; the primary beneficiary of an intestate estate, where no children are involved, is the surviving spouse or civil partner.
Note the word ‘spouse’ which means you are legally married to the other person. The same legal principle in succession law applies to civil partners.
But what if you are married with children? What happens if you each have separate investments or bank accounts or if your residence is in sole the name of one of you? And what happens when the last one of you dies?
If you have children, your spouse or civil partner is entitled to a fixed sum (currently £322,000) and your personal possessions, plus one half of the remaining estate. The other half of the estate will go to your children. If the children are under 18, trustees will need to be appointed to look after their share. For larger estates, there is a strong possibility that the spouse may not be able to keep the house and the children’s share may be subject to inheritance tax.
1 in 3 families are now classed as “blended families” where the children may be the biological children of one of you, but not the other. Your family could be left with a real mess to clear up, which can easily be avoided by having a professionally drawn Will that covers the “what if” factors such as:
- What if one of my children dies before me?
- What if I want some of my estate to go to stepchildren as well as biological children?
- What if my husband or wife remarry after my death?
- What if we both die together – do our families from both sides share the estate?
If you live with someone but have no legal relationship, or if you are single, it is even more important to make a Will so that your money and property goes where you want it to go. The intestacy rules will govern the distribution of your estate between family members in a priority order. If you are an only child with no spouse, children or surviving parents, your estate could end up with old Uncle Fred who you haven’t seen since you were a child or, worst case scenario, being divided between dozens of distant relatives in varying shares. Again a real mess for someone to sort out.
At Dovaston Law, we offer a bespoke Will service. Our consultants have administered hundreds of estates after people have died and they know how these things work. They will go through various scenarios and options with you to offer complete peace of mind (for less than the price of a cheap package holiday… but with longer lasting benefits). Don’t leave behind a mess for your loved ones after your death.
Did we also mention that your Will can include what you would like for your funeral arrangements; another family argument that can be avoided. Now, where is my Elvis playlist…..
Contact us if you need to make a Will or revise the one that you have.