It is important to understand what will happen to our estate if we die without a Will.
We probably all understand that we should have a Will, but the reality is that most of us don’t have one. In fact, it is suggested that around two thirds of the population in England & Wales do not currently have a valid Will in place.
Making a Will is the only way to ensure that your wishes are carried out after your death. If you have not made, or do not have a valid Will, your property will pass according to the Law of Intestacy. This may not be what you would have wished.
In any event it is likely to take longer to finalise than if you had made a Will. During this time, your beneficiaries may not be able to draw any money from your estate and it can lead to arguments and distress for your relatives.
If you are single and do not have children
You might want your estate divided amongst friends, relatives, and charities of your choosing and in the proportions you want.
The Law of Intestacy will as a priority direct your estate to your parents, which is usually the exact opposite of the preferred flow of wealth between generations.
If you are married or in a civil partnership
Do not assume “my other half will get everything”. Brothers, sisters, or parents may have a claim. Often your children have a right to part of your estate.
If you are co-habiting but married or in a civil partnership
If you are living as a couple but not married, you will be treated as a single person and a surviving partner may get nothing at all – regardless of how long or well-established your relationship is and regardless of whether you have children.
One thing you can be certain of – there will be arguments and disputes at a time when the family should be coping with the loss of a loved one.
If you are a parent
You should consider who you would like to look after your children in the event of your death. This is particularly important in the case of single parent families or unmarried parents living together. A valid Will nominating guardians is invaluable in such cases.
If no one knows what you would have wanted, the Court will decide on the future of your children, and it may not be what you or your children would have wished.
If you are retired
Maybe you made a Will a long time ago? It probably needs updating to include additional grandchildren or deletion of persons you no longer feel you wish to leave anything to. As your family grows and matures the time may come where your grandchildren need to benefit more than your children.
Clearing up the mess after an Intestacy
The distribution of your estate can in certain circumstances be reorganised after your death, but this is not always allowed by the law and in any event will require the costly services of a solicitor.
As a last resort, any person who was financially dependent on you but does not receive any or sufficient provision under the Laws of Intestacy may need to go to court to make a claim against your estate. Again, this would be very costly and time consuming.
If you want the correct outcome…
Why not just write a Will and get it right first time?
If the landscape of those who you need or want to benefit from your estate does not match the rigid picture laid out in law, you can achieve the correct outcome by directing your estate correctly via your own Will.
We can help
Relay can draft a Will that is right for you and is flexible enough to adapt to the uncertainties of the future. Contact us to set up a meeting to discuss your needs.
It is advisable that you review your Will every 2-5 years to reflect any changes to your circumstances.
Getting ready for your Will Discovery meeting
The first step to helping to draft the right Will for you is to meet with you to discuss your needs and your family and financial circumstances.