What happens if you don’t have a Will?
CHOOSE WHERE YOUR ESTATE IS DISTRIBUTED.
Unfortunately around 70% of the UK population does not have a Will, and if you do not have a Will the government will decide who inherits your possessions, property and money. They will decide who inherits your estate by using the Law of Intestacy (1925) and as you can imagine they are unlikely to divide your assets in the way you would choose.
Do you really want a complete stranger to dictate where your hard earned estate should be distributed? Under the Law of Intestacy if you are unmarried and have no close relatives your Estate will automatically pass to the Crown (government) if there is no valid Will in place. A graph of the rules of Intestacy is at the bottom of this page. By creating a Will by a qualified trained adviser you can decide exactly who gets which assets, how much and when. The is arguably the most selfless thing that you will be doing because more often than not you will be doing this for your loved ones. You will also help avoid unnecessary problems, heartache and arguments amongst family members or relatives, that can arise when a deceased person's wishes are unclear. The result of not making a will are much more serious for cohabitants, than, for instance, married couples, because (under current laws) the partner has no automatic entitlement to the estate.
So if you're not married and living together, there are no guarantees under the existing law your partner will automatically receive any of your money or property should you die.
Basically if you're not married and want to ensure that your partner and children are protected and cared for, you should be making a will.
Problems for your loved ones
KEEP IT SIMPLE FOR YOUR FAMILY.
By not preparing a Will often you end up hurting the people you love the most which happens to be your spouse, children or family members you end up creating difficulties for those you leave behind, at a time which is already distressing.
Firstly, your next of kin may be unsure as to whether or not you have prepared a Will. This means that they would probably have to spend time and money on searching for one. Not only will they be upset with you no longer being there, they will be missing your income but the debt and funeral costs will still need to be paid, so the last thing we want is to pile on any more problems without having a Will in place.
If there is no Will , they will probably need to go to the courts in an attempt to gain the power to deal with your estate. If a Will had been prepared this would be unnecessary as they would simply apply for probate, a process that is far quicker and easier to complete. The process without a Will is often very stressful, very times consuming and can also by costly.
Due to the delay in gaining access to your assets, your next of kin would have to pay for funeral expenses from their own funds. There is also the possibility that they would have to pay inheritance tax before receiving any of your assets, a problem which often leads to financial hardship and even debt.
If you have children and their mother is not alive, unless you have appointed guardians, your next of kin would need to deal with this too. This is also dealt with through the court, which is costly and time consuming.
ENSURE LOVED ONES RECEIVE AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.
Inheritance tax is the tax you pay on your estate. In literally means everything that you own at the time of your death after your liabilities have been paid, once you have taken away the debts, its then important to establish if there is any inheritance tax Liability. Having a trusted adviser sit in front of you can often help reduce and sometimes eliminate inheritance tax all together using various Trusts. organisations without inheritance tax being charged on them. This then allows you to provide more money for the people you want to receive it rather than paying it to the taxman.
Appointing legal guardians for your children
ENSURE CHILDREN ARE IN SAFE HANDS.
If you have minors who are under the age of 18, preparing a Will is especially important. In your Will you can appoint guardians to care for your children in the event of your death. If you do not set up guardianship for your children they could in up in with people that you don’t approve of or even in a home. As a parent you want to ensure the best for your children in the event of you passing away, so a Will needs to be set up to ensure your children are looked after by the people you trust the most. This can be distressing for the children, as well as other family members, at a particularly difficult time. In some situations, this could mean that a partner (who you are not married to) is not granted guardianship, even though they are the natural parent.
It’s up to you who you choose as the guardian but most people choose to appoint a family member as a guardian for their children, especially if the children are very young. Often if parents have children over the age of 18 they can nominate them to be the guardian. It is recommended to appoint two guardians in your Will, who are partners and live together, as this will provide your children with a settled family environment at a very difficult time. If circumstances change then the guardians can be omitted from the Will and new guardians can be appointed, by means of writing a codicil. Alternatively, substitute guardians in case of a sudden change of circumstances can be appointed in the Will.
It’s always worth speaking to the adviser to get guardian insurance set to help the guardian look after the children financially, after all it will be another mouth to feed and cloths. The financial arrangements in relation to bringing up the children are best left to the trustees of your estate. They are also responsible for ensuring that any inheritance the children receive before they reach eighteen is held in a trust for them, until they are old enough to decide responsibly how to use it.
Laws of intestacy (England and Wales)
If you died leaving no valid Will, your estate would be distributed in accordance with the laws of intestacy. The flowchart below illustrates who would inherit your estate if you died without leaving a Will.