Intestacy – ‘Losing the Will’

20th September 2017The Society of Will Writers0

Introduction – What is Intestacy?

‘It’s okay not having a Will as long as you know what will happen without one.’

What happens if you die without a making a Will? Simply put, the government will decide what happens to your property, possessions and money for you. Dying without a Will, known as dying intestate, means that the rules of intestacy must be followed to distribute your estate, and it may be the case that those you wanted to inherit could be left with nothing.

To work out who will benefit from your estate if you die intestate, we’ve produced a handy flowchart for you to follow.

If you died intestate and are married, or have registered a civil partnership, your partner will receive everything only if there are no children. If there are children, your partner will receive part of your estate, and the children will receive whatever is left over. If you are unmarried or haven’t registered a civil partnership, then your partner will receive nothing, and so we must follow the flowchart to determine who is next in line to inherit from your estate. If it is any children you have, everything is distributed amongst them equally. Followed by parents, siblings, half-siblings, grandparents, then finally aunts and uncles. If you have no living relatives at all, then your estate is passed onto the crown.

It is most likely that this is not how you wish for your estate to be distributed. You may not want certain people to receive anything after your death, or you may wish to leave everything to a specific family member, or even to your friends or favourite charities. Writing a Will is the only way to ensure this can happen. Without a Will, you have no control over your estate after death and neither will anyone else, as the rules of intestacy must be followed. If you’re married and don’t have a particularly complex estate, then having a Will may not be a necessity. However, as soon as you introduce children, property, or any foreign or business assets, then you would be ill advised to leave everything up to the rules of intestacy.

There are many benefits to having a Will other than control over how your estate is distributed. If you have quite a large estate, you may need to consider your Inheritance Tax (IHT) liability. A Will can be a useful tool to help mitigate the size of your IHT bill, and you can do this by leaving charitable gifts, or gifting in lifetime. Your Will Writer or solicitor will be able to best advise you on this matter. You should also consider appointing guardians for you minor children in your Will. In the event that you’re no longer around to care for them, would you want to let the courts decide who looks after your children, or somebody you know and trust? Appointing guardians for them ensures that they’re placed in the care of somebody of your choosing, which any parent would surely prefer.

To make a Will, you can find a member in your local area with our ‘find a member’ page:

Alternatively, you can call us on 01522 68 78 88.

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The Society of Will Writers is a non-profit making self-regulatory organisation whose primary objectives are the advancement, education and ethical standards within the will writing profession.

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