What happens if I die without a valid Will?

We are often asked the question: What happens if I die without a valid Will?

When a person dies without leaving a Will, they are described as having died ‘intestate’. This means that their estate will be distributed in accordance with the rules of intestacy. These are a statutory set of rules to divide your estate amongst your relatives in a specified order, decided by law. 

So what are the rules?

The intestacy rules require an estate to be distributed in strict proportions according to the law and depending on the individual circumstances. 

Married or in a civil partnership.

  • If the deceased was married or in a civil relationship and had children, the first £322,000 of the estate will pass to their spouse or civil partner, along with any personal possessions. 
  • Anything over £322,000 will then be divided; with the spouse or civil partner receiving 50% and the children entitled to divide the other 50% between them. If however the person who died wasn’t married or in a civil partnership, but was living with their long term partner, this partner will not be entitled to receive anything.

Not married or in a civil partnership::

  • the entire estate will pass to the children. 
  • If there are no children, the estate would pass to the parents, siblings or other relatives.

Accordingly, this removes the freedom to choose who you would like to benefit from your estate upon your passing.Without a Will, you have no control over the distribution of your own assets.  

There are a number of problems which can arise by not leaving a valid Will and dying intestate. The obvious one is you may be leaving out people from benefiting from your estate and benefitting someone who you don’t wish to inherit from your estate. As part of your legacy, the last thing you want to leave for your family is a dispute over entitlement to your property when emotions are already running high., especially if your family make assumptions about what you would have wished for in your lifetime. .

In addition to this, if the majority of your estate is made up of your family home, the only way to ensure that everyone receives their entitlement is often to sell your property and split the proceeds. This will invariably put your loved ones through financial pressure and needless arguments. 

It will also take longer to administer your estate and tthose in charge of dealing with your estate could be those you would not have personally appointed. This could result in decisions that go against your wishes and cause further dispute. 

If you have children, you risk affording them financial protection and have no control as to who is appointed as their guardians.  

Also, if you intend to make a specific gift to someone or a charity , the only way to ensure this is by setting it out in a Will.  To avoid disputes, financial stress for your loved ones and  unfulfilled wishes, making a Will during your lifetime is imperative.  

There is no time like the present!

Fairmont Legal can advise and guide you every step of the way to help you draft your Will.  Contact a member of the team today.


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