What happens if you don’t have a will?

Many people don’t realise that without a will in place, the law decides how their money and possessions are distributed (following the intestacy rules). You lose the right to choose. The result may not be what you would have wanted or may cause future legal problems for those you love.

Use the list below to see some of the problems that might affect your situation without a valid will in place then ask yourself how it might apply to your situation?

You give up the right to decide what happens to everything you own if you do not have a will. Instead the intestacy rules apply and you will also have no say over who is appointed to distribute your property under these rules.

None of your wishes may end up being carried out if your will is made without using a solicitor who has ensured it is legally valid. Instead either an older will or the intestacy rules are likely to be applied.

Your partner may get nothing under the intestacy rules if you and your partner are not married or not in a registered civil partnership. This applies however long you have been together. This may force them to bring a legal challenge.

Your ex-partner may get everything, with nothing left for the rest of your family. This can happen under the intestacy rules if you had been married or in a civil partnership and have separated but not divorced or had a judicial separation.

If you have children, the family home may have to be sold rather than be left for your husband or wife or civil partner to live in. This can happen under the intestacy rules if your home is part of your estate and with other assets is worth more than £250,000 (after mortgage). They will only get £250,000 plus half of the balance and your children will receive the other half. This may force a sale of your home.

Your friends and your favourite charity don’t get anything. Even your children and grandchildren may get nothing under the intestacy rules

There can be huge legal problems for your family. With no valid will, those left out may need to take legal action to apply for financial provision. Sometimes without legal action the intestacy rules can even mean your assets go to the government (‘the Crown’).


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