If you should die without leaving a Will, this is known as dying intestate.
Your estate would pass under the Rules of Intestacy (the Rules) and not necessarily to the people you would like to benefit from your assets. Some people, such as cohabitees and stepchildren, do not inherit anything under the Rules.
The Rules of Intestacy
The Rules state that the first £270,000 will pass to your spouse or civil partner, if you have one, together with all of your personal possessions.
If you also have children, then your spouse or civil partner will receive half of the remainder of your estate, while your children will share the other half equally between them. This could result in your children receiving less than you might have wished them to have.
For example, if you are married with three children and your net estate is worth £390,000, then your spouse will inherit £270,000 plus half of the remaining £120,000, for a total of £330,000. Your three children would share £60,000 which is the other half of the remainder, receiving £20,000 each.
If you do not have a spouse or civil partner, then your children will inherit your estate. If you do not have children, then the Rules state that an estate will pass to other relatives in strict order, as follows:
- Half siblings
- Uncles and aunts
- Half aunts and uncles
- The Crown
In the event that you have separated from your spouse or civil partner, they will still inherit if you do not leave a Will.
Once you have divorced or had a civil partnership dissolved, your ex would not inherit from your estate if you have not made a Will.
Bringing a claim against an estate
Those who depend upon you could potentially bring a claim against your estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. There is a risk that this will deplete your estate, as your personal representative (the person dealing with the administration of your estate) may need to instruct a solicitor to defend the estate against the claim.
There is also a risk that it could result in a family disagreement.
Making a Will
By putting a valid Will in place, you can ensure that your estate will pass to your choice of beneficiary. You can include those who would not otherwise inherit anything, such as partners, stepchildren and close friends.
You can also choose who you would like to administer your affairs after your death and appoint guardians for any children you have who are aged under 18.
Putting a Will in place will give you the reassurance of knowing that you have done all you can to protect and provide for your loved ones.
At Elm Legal Services, our Wills and Trusts experts can discuss your situation with you and draw up a bespoke Will on your behalf. We can answer any questions you may have and ensure that your Will directs your assets exactly where you want them to go.
If you would like to speak to one of our specialist Wills and Probate lawyers, call us now on 0117 952 0698 or Contact Us and we will be happy to explain the options available to you without obligation.