A Will is essential. We have first hand experience of dealing with estates where there was no Will, and it makes the process of dealing with the estate significantly more difficult at a time when the bereaved want financial matters to be as simple as possible. There can also be tax implications if there is no Will.
The rules of Intestacy determine who your assets are distributed to if you die without a Will. The Intestacy rules have recently changed, so now is an opportune time to review the new rules and for you to consider how this may affect you. If you do not have a Will, then the following could apply to you.
1. Married Couples with Children
The spouse would inherit the following:
- All “personal chattels” i.e. moveable property such as jewellery, furniture and cars.
- £250,000 (or the whole of the estate, if its value is less than this).
- 50% of any balance left over.
The remaining 50% goes to the children. If the children are under 18, the money is held in Trust until age 18. Therefore if you want all of your money would be passed to your spouse first, then you need a Will. There could also be Inheritance Tax on the amount passed to the children.
2. Married Couples without Children
The spouse would inherit 100% of the estate. Prior to the new rules coming into effect, some of the estate would be passed to parents or siblings.
3. Unmarried Couples living together
Your partner will not automatically receive any of your estate under the rules of intestacy. If you have children, they will benefit, but if not, any surviving parents would. Therefore, in you are cohabiting, a Will becomes even more important.
For all couples with children, of added importance is the issue of appointing legal guardians in the event of both of your deaths.
Jointly owned assets will fall into the ownership of the survivor, regardless of martial status or the terms of a Will.
If you would like us to recommend a suitable solicitor, please let us know.