The importance of having a Will
A Will is used by your family to determine what will happen to your property after your death. According to insurance company Royal London, in 2018 it was found that 54% of British citizens don’t have a Will, and 5.4 million people didn’t know how to make one. These statistics seem staggering when you consider the amount of people whose assets are being distributed to someone they may have chosen to omit, had they written a Will.
Who inherits your possessions if you pass away without a Will?
Depending on your circumstance, your possessions could be given to a partner, children or a distant relative you have never met.
In situations where there is a surviving spouse through a marriage, what happens to the estate is dependent upon a few factors; the size of the estate and whether the deceased had living children at the time of death.
If the estate is less than £270,000, the spouse will receive the entire estate.
If the estate is more than £270,000 the spouse will receive everything up to £270,000, and the remainder will be shared as to 50% to the surviving spouse and 50% to the living children of the deceased.
A surviving unmarried partner will not automatically inherit your possessions. The estate will be shared equally between your children, or grandchildren if your children are already deceased. If there are no living children at the time of death, the estate will pass to living parents.
If a person dies with no Will, research will have to be undertaken to establish the closest living blood relative to the deceased and this may be a person you have never met.
Who will be made administrator of your estate?
The issues caused by a person passing away without a Will go further than just questions surrounding division of the estate. There will be the question of who will be put in charge of administering your estate.
If the estate is worth more than £5,000, up to four of your relatives may need to complete an application with the registry office to be appointed as administrator of your estate. This person will have full responsibility to take control of your assets and all of the responsibilities in administering the estate in accordance with the intestacy rules.
If there is any dispute over who should be administrator of your estate, the surviving family will have to apply to the probate court to receive a judgment on who should be the appointed administrator. This is a lengthy and costly process that could be avoided by having a Will drawn up and an executor appointed to deal with the estate.
Who will take care of your children?
Arguably one of the most important issues arising from people passing away without a Will is the question of who will raise their minor children. It is not possible to definitively decide who will care for your children in the event of your death whilst the children remain minors, but you can specify your wish as to who that primary carer should be. That can then be taken into account by friends and family members and ultimately the court should there be any contested proceedings in respect to the primary carer following your death.
Who will own your business?
If you is a business owner with no Will, when you pass away, your business will not automatically be passed to your family to run in all circumstances.
Your family may be at risk of losing control of the business or the business may not be run in the way you would have wanted it to. Therefore, it is crucial for the terms of your requests to be outlined in a Will, and you should consider drafting a Business Lasting Power of Attorney to ensure your business is left in the hands of the person you would like during your life if you are unable to manage it yourself.
As you can see, there are many issues that may arise when a person dies intestate. With so many different possibilities of where your assets could be distributed to, you may find it comforting to know that your possessions will be handed down to exactly who you want them to go to. Drawing up a Will can prevent disputes over the administration of your estate, which would otherwise cause more stress and financial implications to your family, in an already difficult time.
All of these complications can be avoided by meeting with a solicitor and having a Will drawn up. If this is something you require out assistance with, please contact our Wills team on 02921 679333.