There is a great deal of misunderstanding about what happens if you die without a Will.
It’s only when people realise the consequences of not having a Will that they take action. The title of this blog is a fact; you do have a Will already written for you by the state. It’s known as The Laws of Intestacy and it’s also true that many people are unaware of this.
The Laws of Intestacy are not negotiable. If you die without a Will these laws will apply, regardless of the financial hardship they cause for your loved ones.
A Will, in it’s most basic form, sets out 3 things:
- Who will administer your affairs?
- Who will benefit from your death?
- Who will care for your children?
If you don’t have a Will, the Laws of Intestacy will decide these things for you. In other words, you have a Will written by the state.
- Who will administer your affairs?
A Will would allow you to appoint people into the roles of Executor and Trustee. If you do not write a Will before you die, an Administrator would need to be appointed. The Administrator would need to apply for a Grant of Representation. You can usually apply for a Grant of Representation if you are the next of kin.
It is out of your hands who is appointed to administer your affairs and it may not always be who you would choose. If you are separated from your spouse for example, your spouse remains your next of kin until you are divorced. If you live with a long-term partner, with shared finances, it might not be appropriate for your estranged spouse to be given control of your financial affairs.
The only way that you can be sure of who will be appointed to act on your behalf is to make a Will.
2. Who will benefit from your death?
This is the biggest area of misunderstanding and could cause irreparable damage to your family’s finances.
- Whether you are married or in a civil partnership
- Whether you have children
If you are married or in a civil partnership with children ; your spouse will receive the first £250,000. If your estate is valued at more than £250,000, the amount above this sum will be split into 2 parts. Your spouse will receive half and the remaining half will be shared equally between your children when they attain the age of 18.
Your spouse or civil partner will also receive your ‘personal chattels’ (household items, jewellery etc).
If you are not married or in a civil partnership with children; your estate will be shared equally between your children when they attain the age of 18.
If you are not married or in a civil partnership with no children; your estate will be distributed equally between your living relatives in a set order starting with your parents
If you are not married or in a civil partnership you will not inherit any of your partners assets regardless of how long you have lived together, even if you have children together.
IMPORTANT: If you fit in this group it is essential that you make a Will if you would like your long-term partner to benefit on your death.
3. Who will care for your children?
Making a Will allows you to decide on who will care for your children if both parents die.
If you die without making a Will, leaving your children without parents, the courts will make this decision for you.
They will not necessarily appoint the persons you would have chosen and pending their decision, your children will be taken into care usually with short term foster parents.
If the courts decide there are no suitable guardians from within your family members, your children will remain in the care of the courts.
Making a Will is essential when deciding who will look after your children if both parent’s die while children are below the age of 18.
If you would like to discuss your Will arrangements, please call on 01604 378605.