If the worst should happen, and someone dies without making a will, their estate will fall under the rules of intestacy. However, while the rules are intended to be fair to all, it is unlikely to suit everyone’s circumstances. There are many risks involved in not making a will, and one of the primary reasons for making one is that that you get to control what happens with your estate and who benefits.
If you die without a Will (intestate) then your spouse/civil partner is automatically entitled to inherit under your estate. This is known as a statutory legacy and has now increased from £250,000 to £270,000 – which is good news. This means that if you have a spouse/civil partner, then the first £270,000 of your estate will pass outright to them. If you have children, then the rest of your estate will be split 50/50 between your spouse/civil partner and your children. If you have no children, then everything will pass to your spouse/civil partner.
However, if you are unmarried but in a relationship, then under the intestacy rules your partner is not entitled to inherit under your estate – which can of course be problematic and not what you may intend. Instead, if you have children, then your estate will pass to your children. Or, if you have no children it will either pass to your parents, siblings or other family members.
It is good news that the statutory legacy has increased, however it is still very important to ensure that you have a valid Will in place for the reasons outlined above, as well as many others.
Please speak to a member of the Private Client team if you would like any advice in relation to your Will.
These notes have been prepared for the purpose of an article only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice.