What if I die without making a Will – Rules of Intestacy

If you die without a Will, then the government will decide who will inherit your estate in accordance with the Rules of Intestacy. These were drawn up in the 1920s, and despite major revisions in 2014, may not accord with your wishes. Depending upon circumstances and the size of your estate, your spouse may end up sharing your assets with your children. Married partners or civil partners inherit under the rules of intestacy only if they are married or in a civil partnership at the time of death. So, if you are divorced or if your civil partnership has been legally ended, you can’t inherit under the rules of intestacy.

The full laws of Intestacy depend on which part of the UK you live in and can be found on the government website here https://www.gov.uk/inherits-someone-dies-without-will/y.

The point of a Will

People have reservations when it comes to discussing this delicate matter, but the process need not turn out to be as upsetting or difficult as you might think. In fact, having a Will in place provides re-assurance that only comes with the knowledge that you have tied up all those loose ends.

It is important to have the correct type of Will – one that is professionally drafted to take into account your wishes, and your personal and financial circumstances.

The correct Will can allow you to:

  • Specify whom you wish to inherit your estate, in what order and in what proportions, so that you have comfort in the knowledge that your wishes will be carried out
  • Make specific legacies to family or friends or gifts to your favourite charities
  • Appoint suitable guardians for young children, rather than leaving the decision to the Courts
  • Set up maintenance trusts for children to protect their inheritance until an age specified by you
  • Make provision for children or other beneficiaries, should your surviving partner remarry
  • Protect your share of the property from having to be sold to pay your surviving partner’s future care fees, thus still having assets to leave to your family

Amending an existing Will

If you already have a Will, it is recommended that you review it every 2 to 5 years. Sometimes your wishes may not have changed, but the value of your assets and the law may have. It is very important to ensure that your Will does exactly what you want it to do; that it protects your assets and investments, and most importantly that you have taken advantage of various areas of flexibility within the law of estate planning.