Why are Wills Important?
It is estimated that over 60% of people haven’t made a Will. If you die without a valid Will, your estate will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy. These rules are rigid and dictate the amount and order of those who will receive your assets. This could mean the people who you care about may lose out and could leave complicated issues for those left behind to deal with the estate. This has particular significance for those who are not married but own a house together and or have children. Below is a list of the order of intestacy.
The order of intestacy:
Spouse (married) or legally registered Civil Partner.
Issue (Children/Grandchildren but not step children/grandchildren).
Full blood brother or sisters, or their issue.
Half blood brothers or sisters, or their issue.
Full blood uncles and aunts, or their issue.
Half blood uncles and aunts, or their issue.
The Crown, the Duchy of Lancashire, or the Duke of Cornwall as bona vacantia
Making A Will
A will is a legal document created to clearly set out who will inherit from your estate and what you would like to happen after you die. Your Will can include your funeral wishes and clearly detail how your assets will be distributed. In addition, you can appoint guardians for your children.
I already have a Will
Your Will is a legally-binding document but if it is not properly prepared, it may not be valid. Equally, a Will which is out of date or has not considered your current circumstances may have unintended consequences.
If you die before your spouse they will inherit at least the first £250,000 from your estate, but if they subsequently remarried and then died before their spouse without making a Will, your children could end up with nothing. A Life Interest Trust could prevent this, see our guide on Life Interest Trusts.
If you are unmarried but have a partner, the rules of intestacy do not allow for them to inherit from your estate.
Under Section 5 of the Children’s Act 1989, a person with parental responsibility may appoint one or more persons to be a guardian to take effect after the death of the last parent has died. You can include this in your Will and it will form a valid appointment.
If you have children from a previous relationship, they may not receive anything from your estate if you have married someone other than the parent of that child. If you die without a Will everything up to the first £250,000 would pass to your new spouse.
Family relationships can be complicated, you may be estranged from your adult children and do not wish them to benefit from your estate, without a Will they could still inherit.