Many choose to postpone preparing their Will for as long as they can without properly considering the risks and potential implications this can have on their estate in the event they pass away.
Firstly, when a person passes without a Will, their estate (what they own) is distributed under the rules of intestacy. In this circumstance, those who inherit from the estate are often only extremely close relatives and married or civil partners. An individual’s estate can also fall under the same rules of intestacy if they previously made a Will but that will is not legally valid.
Your Will when Married or in a Civil Partnership
If you are without a valid Will upon your death, then only married or civil partners may inherit under the rules of intestacy.
This can be problematic to partners who are in a relationship, but who have not formally married or had a civil partnership. Partners in this circumstance cannot inherit under the rules of intestacy.
It can also be problematic in the opposite sense, where married or civil partners have separated informally but the civil partnership has not legally ended or they are not divorced. In this scenario, those you may no longer wish to benefit from your estate would do so under the rules of intestacy.
Your Will When You Have Jointly Owned Property
Some individuals may jointly own their home. There are two ways of jointly owning a home. These are beneficial joint tenancies and tenancies in common.
A beneficial joint tenancy is the type of ownership where in the event that one of the joint tenants dies, your legal interest in the property automatically passes to the surviving joint tenants. Therefore, the other person/s automatically inherits the deceased’s share in the property.
A tenancy in common is a type of ownership where should one tenant in common pass, the surviving tenant/s will not automatically inherit their share the deceased's share will pass as per the rules of intestacy.
This can also be problematic should you not have a Will in place in the event you pass away. As a joint tenant, you may not necessarily want the other tenants, for instance, your partner, to automatically inherit your share of the property. Instead, you may wish to leave your share to your children for example.
On the other hand, you may be a tenant in common with your partner, for instance, and should you pass you may wish for your share to pass to your partner. However, as tenants in common, the property would not automatically pass and so the share may pass to another relative.
Joint Bank/Building Society Accounts
If you were without a Will upon your passing, then any joint bank or building society accounts are likely to move solely into the surviving person’s name. This could cause difficulties in circumstances where you may have wanted to gift money to other friends and family, not just a partner for example.
Your Will and Your Children
If you pass away intestate then any children you have will inherit your full estate, but only where there is no surviving married or civil partner.
If there is a surviving partner, they will inherit only if the estate is worth more than £270,000. This could be a problem for those who want their children to benefit from their estate. Again, on the other hand, where there is no surviving married or civil partner, your children may inherit a considerable amount of money.
In addition, when an intestate person passes leaving children that are under the age of 18, they will have no control over who will be guardians to their children. The creation of Will enables for what is known as a guardianship clause in which you can set out clearly who you would wish for your children to be looked after by in the event you pass.
A grandchild or great-grandchild cannot inherit from an intestate person unless their parent or grandparent died prior to the death of the intestate person, or if their parent is alive upon the death of the intestate person but dies before reaching the age of 18 without having married or formed a civil partnership.
In this event, you may have close relatives like grandchildren or great-grandchildren that you wanted to benefit from the estate but will not.
Other Close Relatives/Friends
Unfortunately, if an individual dies intestate it may be unlikely that other close relatives could receive any of their estate. Many factors affect this but ultimately those you may wish to benefit from your estate could not if you were to pass without a valid will.
Close friends would have no right to inherit from an intestate person’s estate. Again, where you wish for friends to benefit from your estate you would need this to be written into a valid will.
Conclusively, it is important to have a valid Will in place should you wish for your estate to pass to those you desire it to. The rules of intestacy may not include everyone you would have liked to inherit part of your estate, or it may even mean that someone you didn’t want to benefit from the estate unfortunately does.
If you exclude someone, even accidentally by not preparing a Will, a person can make a claim on the deceased’s estate which only increases costs and upset.
If you wish to have your Will written at a sooner date then please do get in contact with us, we endeavor to ensure that our clients' desires upon their death are upheld and this can only be guaranteed when a valid W ill is in place.
0207 183 4595
The information provided in this article is not intended to constitute professional advice and you should take full and comprehensive legal, accountancy or financial advice as appropriate on your individual circumstances by a fully qualified Solicitor, Accountant or Financial Advisor/Mortgage Broker before you embark on any course of action.