Dying without a Will – What happens?
Roughly 60% of the country does not have an up to date will, so what happens if you die without a Will?
There are many misconceptions about what happens when someone dies without a Will – many people believe that their spouse or children will inherit everything automatically. Many others believe that is they are living with someone that that partner would inherit as they are ‘common-law partners’ (this is a myth and is not something that is legally recognised).
Rules of Intestacy
Unfortunately, if someone dies without a Will then their estate will be distributed according to the Rules of Intestacy (when a person dies ‘intestate’ meaning that they have died without expressing their wishes legally in a Will). This means that the courts will decide how the estate is distributed based on Law; this includes all monetary and physical possessions, as well as guardianship of any dependants that the deceased is responsible for (both minors and people with disabilities that make them incapable of independent living). Below is a flow chart outlining the Rules of Intestacy from Society of Will Writers
Important things to think out
The main element to consider is that unless you are legally married, then your estate will be distributed to your next closest living relatives, whether this is children, parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts or uncles. If there are no living relatives then the estate will be distributed to the Crown.
If you are married then the first £270,000 will be distributed to your legal spouse and the remainder of the estate will be shared with your next closest living relatives, unless there are none.
Where things can become more difficult is in the areas of separation from spouses, if they are still legally married to you then they will inherit the first £270,000 before anything would be distributed to any children or other surviving relatives.
In terms of guardianship of minors, unless there is a living parent or carer, without a Will the state will decide who the children would be re-homed with; this may be grandparents, siblings, aunts or uncles. If there is nobody suitable found then the children will become wards of the state and may be placed in foster care.
Legal challenges in relation to intestate estates are often long, meaning an estate can be held for many years before it is settled. This is also an incredibly costly legal matter for the challenger and often unsuccessful.
Importance of Writing and storing a Will
As you can see having a Will to ensure your estate is distributed to your wishes is vital.
54% of people surveyed say that they are unsure how to go about writing a Will and often see this as a complicated process.
Some people may choose to write their own Wills, however if these are not correctly registered and legally binding, or become lost or damaged, then your estate will again fall under the Rules of Intestacy.
However, by choosing a registered Will Writer such as ourselves at Glamorgan Legacy, we can help you to not only write your Will and update it with you as required, but we can also store it securely for you until it is required. Our services are professional and try to make the process as seamless and as easy as possible.
Furthermore, we ensure that your Will is legally correct and that your wishes are clear. So feel free to contact us to discuss your needs.