Making a Will is one of the most important things you will do in your lifetime. It caters for far more than just who will benefit from your belongings (your estate).
When a person dies without leaving a valid will, their property (the estate) must be shared out according to certain rules. These are called the rules of intestacy. A person who dies without leaving a will is called an intestate person.
Only married or civil partners and some other close relatives can inherit under the rules of intestacy.
If someone makes a will but it is not legally valid, the rules of intestacy decide how the estate will be shared out, not the wishes expressed in the will. Here are the latest Intestacy Rules as they apply now (as at October 2014):
You are married (or in a civil partnership) and your estate is worth less than £250,000
Under the Intestacy Rules, your surviving spouse/civil partner inherits everything.
You are married (or in a civil partnership), your estate is worth more than £250,000 and you have no children.
Again under the Intestacy Rules, your surviving spouse/civil partner inherits it all.
You are married (or in a civil partnership), your estate is worth more than £250,000 and you have children.
Under the Intestacy Rules, it now starts to get interesting and potentially problematic for the surviving spouse/civil partner. The first £250,000 and the personal possessions will go to the spouse/civil partner. The remainder of the estate will be divided in half, with half going straight to the surviving spouse and the other half being divided between surviving children. If any child should pre-decease you, then their own children (your grandchildren), would get their parent’s share and so on if a grandchild has predeceased etc
You are not married (or in a civil partnership) but have children Under the Intestacy Rules your children will inherit everything equally. Again, if a child has pre-deceased you, then their children will get their parent’s share (or children’s children etc)
You are not married (or in a civil partnership) and have no children.
Under the Intestacy Rules, your surviving relatives will inherit in the following order:
If you have no surviving spouse/civil partner, parents, children, siblings, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, first cousins etc then under the Intestacy Rules, everything will go to the Crown
Avoiding Intestacy Problems
If the Intestacy Rules cause financial hardship then a claim under the Inheritance Act can be considered.
However, the best way of avoiding the unintended consequences of the Intestacy Rules is quite simply to make a will. It is easy to do and cheaper then you probably think.
If you require advice about the Intestacy Rules or would like to make a claim under the Inheritance Act for more adequate provision then contact us now.
For more information on Rules of Intestacy please contact us on 01834 815062 or click here to email us.
A will is a legal document where a person, names one or more persons to manage his or her affairs and estate. In “olden” times, a Will referred to property, and a Testament referred to personal property, hence the term now used “Last Will and Testament”.
If someone dies without making a will, they are said to have died “intestate”. If this happens, the law sets out who should deal with the deceased’s affairs and who should inherit their estate (property, personal possessions and money).
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