You haven’t made a will; so who will benefit from your estate after your death?

24 Jun 2019

Over half of adults living in the UK reportedly do not have a Will. That means that over 31 million people in the UK alone run the risk of having their estate distributed under the intestacy rules rather than with their own wishes. So what does that mean for you?
  • If you have a wife, husband or civil partner but no children, then your husband/wife will inherit your whole estate. 
  • If you have a surviving wife, husband or civil partner, children, grandchildren or great grandchildren and your estate is worth more than £250,000 then your husband/wife or civil partner will inherit:
    • All of your personal property
    • The first £250,000 of your estate
    • Half of your remaining estate (with the other half passing to your children if there are any or grandchildren (including great) in the alternative)
  • If you have children but no surviving spouse, your children will inherit your whole estate in equal parts.
  • If you do not have a spouse or children then your estate will be distributed to the first applicable group below:
    • Any surviving parents equally;
    • Any surviving siblings or their children equally;
    • Any surviving grandparents equally;
    • Any surviving aunts or uncles or their children equally;
    • The crown. 

If you own property jointly with someone else (for example a house held as joint tenants or a joint bank account) then this will fall outside of the intestacy rules and will pass directly to the joint owner. 

Even when you have drafted your Will you should remember to review it regularly, especially after a significant life event (i.e. marriage, birth of a new child/grandchild, divorce) to ensure that it remains up to date. 

Many people are unaware that marriage (unless marriage to that specific individual  has been expressly set out in the Will) will revoke a Will whereas divorce will not. Instead, after a divorce, your Will continues to take effect but will be viewed as if your former spouse or civil partner had died on the date that the decree absolute or the dissolution of the partnership was issued by the Court. 

Take the important step of reviewing your estate and ensuring that it passes in the way you wish before it is too late.

For further information in relation to this article or for further details on intestacy and wills, please contact Cathryn Culverhouse.

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