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We all know the importance of having a Will. It allows us to make financial provision for family and friends, choose guardians for our children, decide who is best placed as an Executor and make sure that our estate is given away in the most tax efficient manner possible.

Makes sense right?  Wrong!

Only 38% of people in Britain die having made a Will.  That leaves a hefty 62% who die without, meaning they die intestate.  Their assets are dealt with under the intestacy rules, which can make life very difficult for those grieving family members left behind and struggling to work out how to sort out the mess.

Under intestacy, you must be married, or in a civil partnership, at the time of death in order to benefit from your loved ones estate. 

If you die intestate, with a spouse, then they will benefit but if there are children from the relationship then the surviving spouse will only inherit the first £250,000 (plus all personal belongings) and will have to share the rest of the estate 50/50 with the children.  This isn’t ideal for many who may then struggle financially as a result.

For couples who have been together many years but are unmarried, the survivor will be left with nothing.  This can have horrific consequences as a surviving partner may be left homeless whilst any children of the deceased will take the whole estate.  Whilst we like to think that children would look after a surviving parent, this is not always the way and can lead to great heartache.

If you die without a spouse or children, your assets will go to your parents first, then other relatives in a certain order but remember, an elderly parent who inherits from their child may then be subject to more inheritance tax on death.  Those people who die with no relatives and no Will have their entire estate passed to the Crown.

It’s not all doom and gloom.  Any asset jointly owned, be it a house or a bank account, will go to the survivor on first death regardless of intestacy rules. 

This isn’t enough to protect against not having a Will so the advice really is simple, make a Will and sign it.  That way all the complexity and heartache can be avoided.

If you would like any additional information please contact our Wills and Probate Team on 01905 721600.

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