More than 50% of British adults have not made a Will. With the increase in popularity of do-it-yourself Wills, the percentage of British adults without a valid Will is likely to be even higher.
Do-it-yourself Wills can seem like a cheap, easy option. However, if the Will is not drafted correctly, it could be challenged or completely disregarded. This could lead to disputes between your relatives on your death with legal fees considerably in excess of the costs of drafting a Will
Another common pitfall is that, even if drafted correctly, your Will may be outdated. If, for example you marry, your Will is automatically revoked (cancelled) and will need to be updated. You may have also left a specific gift to an individual. If you sell the specific item and buy a replacement, this will not pass to that individual and will instead be included within the residuary (remaining) estate that is to be split amongst your beneficiaries. One example might be leaving your house to someone. If you do not own a house at the date of death they receive nothing. This could lead to disputes between your relatives on your death which are likely to far outweigh the costs of updating your Will or drafting a new Will which can take this into account.
What happens to my estate if I do not have a valid Will?
If you have not left a valid Will the rules of intestacy will apply.
The Rules of Intestacy
The rules of intestacy follow a guideline depending on your circumstance at death.
If you have a surviving spouse with no issue (children)
- Your entire residuary estate is held on trust for your surviving spouse.
If you have a surviving spouse and issue
- Your surviving spouse is entitled to the personal chattels, a fixed sum that is currently £250,000.00 and a half share of the remaining estate.
- Your issue are entitled to the remaining half share on attaining the age of 18 years or marrying under that age.
Under the rules of intestacy, if you are not married to your partner, even though you may have cohabited for a significant period of time, your partner is not entitled to anything from your residuary estate.
If you have no surviving spouse and issue
- Your entire residuary estate is held on trust for your issue when they attain the age of 18 years or marry under that age.
If you have no surviving spouse and no issue
- Your entire residuary estate is held on trust for close relatives.
If you are unsure who would be entitled to your estate. The government do have a useful tool to calculate this at https://www.gov.uk/inherits-someone-dies-without-will
Who will care for your children?
For many, being able to make these provisions is more important than the financial benefits of having a Will. By having a Will you will be able to nominate guardians for your children in the event of your death.
If you wish for a free consultation to discuss drafting your Will, please contact us on 01935 817798.