Have you ever considered what happens if you don't make a Will? This is known as dying intestate which can lead to a myriad of complications, leaving your loved ones to navigate the complex legal landscape while grieving your loss. Here we will explore the consequences of dying intestate, the intestacy rules in the UK, and the importance of having a Will in place to ensure that your loved ones are protected and that your assets are distributed according to your wishes.
Dying intestate can have far-reaching consequences, such as disputes among family members and a financial burden for those left behind.
Unmarried partners, stepchildren, and other family members may be excluded from the distribution of assets under intestacy rules.
The probate process without a Will is complex and costly with potential legal implications - making having an up to date legally valid Will crucial for protecting loved ones interests.
Dying without a Will is called "intestacy" which has Latin roots and essentially means "without testament".
If a person dies without writing a Will for the benefit of others in England or Wales, your property will go into a lawful default rather than in accordance with the wishes within the Will.
When a person dies intestate, it means they left no legal will. When a person dies intestate, their entire estate is subject to the government's intestacy rules. This can result in the distribution of assets in a way that may not align with the deceased's personal desires, leading to potential disputes among family members and causing further stress for those left behind.
Jointly owned property can also be impacted by intestacy. If the deceased and surviving partner were what is known as beneficial joint tenants, the surviving partner will automatically inherit the other partner's share of the property. However, if they were what is known as tenants in common, the surviving partner does not automatically inherit the other person's share, which could lead to further complications and legal battles.
Dying instestate doesn't just affect the distribution of assets, it can also have a significant impact on inheritance tax. Without a Will, your estate may be subject to higher taxes, leaving your loved ones with a substantial financial burden. This underscores the importance of having a Will in place to protect your family's financial future.
The intestacy rules in the UK vary depending on location (England, Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland). These rules dictate how your estate will be divided among surviving relatives, including surviving parents half siblings, and surviving children, especially when there are more than one child. However, they generally do not include unmarried partners and stepchildren.
In England and Wales, the division of the estate among surviving relatives is regulated, while in Scotland, a spouse or civil partner has "prior rights". In Northern Ireland, the spouse or civil partner receives the first £250,000 and personal possessions, with some of the remainder of the estate being divided depending on the number of children the deceased had.
Unmarried partners, stepchildren, great grandchildren, and those who are not registered civil partners may be excluded from inheriting under intestacy rules.
Unmarried, cohabiting partners, and those in a civil partnership may not inherit anything under intestacy rules. This can leave them without any legal right or claim to a deceased's estate, even if they intended for them to be provided for. It is crucial for unmarried and cohabiting partners to have a Will in place to protect their interests and ensure their loved ones are taken care of.
Individuals who were residing with the deceased, but not married to them, and had been living together for a period of two years prior to their death, or someone who was consistently treated by the deceased as a family member, may apply for reasonable financial assistance from the estate of the person who has passed away intestate. However, this process can be complex and time-consuming, especially for a surviving spouse, further emphasising the importance of having a Will.
Without a Will, assets held in joint bank accounts will pass to the surviving partner, and property owned as Joint Tenants will result in the surviving partner inheriting their partner's share under the Rights of Survivorship. However, relying on these mechanisms alone may not be sufficient to protect the interests of unmarried and cohabiting partners, making it essential to have a well-drafted Will in place.
The probate process without a Will can be significantly more complex and time-consuming. An administrator must be appointed to handle the estate and distribute assets according to the intestacy rules, which can cause additional stress for surviving blood relatives too.
The fees and costs associated with intestacy can vary depending on the size and complexity of the estate and the size of the deceased's family. This further highlights the importance of having a Will in place to ensure your estate is managed and distributed according to your wishes, minimising complications for your loved ones.
Dying without a Will can lead to legal disputes among family members, as well as potential claims under the Inheritance Act. These disputes can cause additional stress and financial hardship for your loved ones, making it even more crucial to have a legally valid Will in place.
The Inheritance Act is applicable to the husband, wife, or civil partner of the person who has passed away, a partner who resided with the deceased for a minimum of two years prior to the death, or a child of the deceased. Claim under the Inheritance Act can be made by those who possess a certain relationship with the deceased, including children, spouses, civil partners, dependents, and cohabitees.
The deadline for making a claim under the Inheritance Act is six months from the date of the Grant of Letters of Administration. It is advisable to seek legal counsel if you wish to submit a claim, as the process can often be complicated and time-sensitive.
Inheritance tax planning is essential to minimise the tax liability on your estate and ensure your assets are distributed efficiently. Without a Will in place, your estate may be subject to higher taxes, leaving your loved ones left behind after your death with a significant financial burden.
A well-drafted Will can assist in reducing the tax liability on your estate and ensure that assets are distributed in an efficient manner, protecting your family's financial future.
Utilising a professional Will writing service can help you create a legally valid Will that reflects your wishes and protects your loved ones. By working with a qualified Will writer, you can avoid the complications and uncertainties associated with dying intestate, ensuring your assets are distributed according to your preferences.
Writing a Will with a qualified Will writer can provide peace of mind for you and your family, knowing that your estate will be managed and distributed according to your wishes.
Failing to make a Will can have serious repercussions, as the estate of a person who dies without one is divided equally among their children, regardless of its value.
This means that if the estate is worth a lot of money, the children may not receive an equal share. It also means that if the deceased had any specific wishes for how their estate should be divided, these wishes will not be taken into account.
In the absence of a will, the next of kin are typically parents, siblings, nieces and nephews of the deceased, depending on family arrangement and the circumstances.
Without a Will, the estate of a person with no children passes to their surviving parents or siblings; if any of them have passed away, their share is inherited by their children.
However, if the deceased has no surviving parents or siblings, the estate passes to the next closest relatives, such as aunts, uncles, or cousins. If none of these other relatives exist, the estate will unfortunately be passed to the state.
Unmarried and cohabiting partners are not entitled to inheritance under UK intestacy rules, so it is essential for them to make a Will to safeguard their interests.
Making a Will is the only way to ensure that your wishes are respected and that your partner is provided for in the event of your death. Without a Will, your partner may not receive anything from your estate.
In conclusion, dying without a legallu binding Will can lead to a myriad of complications for your loved ones, including disputes, higher taxes, and a complex probate process. By creating a legally valid Will with the help of professional Will writing services, you can ensure your estate is distributed according to your wishes.
Getting a Will written correctly can protect the interests of unmarried and cohabiting partners, and minimise the tax burden. Don't leave your loved ones to navigate the challenges of intestacy; take action to secure their financial future.
Having got this far, you will understand the importance of making sure you have a legally binding Will written, so Write your Will now!