As we step into Spring, the weather is getting warmer, and our villages are coming into bloom, but there is a dark cloud overhead for all of those who do not have their wills in place or have out of date wills. Unfortunately, over the last few months we have seen cases where there has been a family member who has died without a will, and we are seeing lots of clients who have never had a will. While the family may know what that person’s wishes were with regards to their belongings and assets, unfortunately this is not always how the law works.
If you die without a valid will, you die ‘intestate’ and then intestacy rules apply. This will mean the first £270,000 – plus half of the rest of the estate – will go to your legal spouse. This means you must be married or be in a civil partnership – cohabiting couples will not be entitled to anything. The other remaining half will be divided between the children, or grandchildren if the children have pre-deceased them.
Jointly owned property held as “joint tenants,” or jointly held bank accounts, will not be affected as this is passed to the other joint owner by survivorship. But if the property is held as “tenants in common,” the deceased person’s share of the property will become part of the estate, and the other owner may not be entitled to it. So, it may be best to check how your property is held. We can check this for you and transfer it from “tenants in common” to “joint tenants” if needed.
If you are married but separated and not yet divorced, then you may wish to draft a will as your ex-partner will be entitled to your estate, as they are still legally a spouse, and you may not wish for them to inherit. There are also tax implications to look at and you may wish to seek financial advice from the Hungerford Legal and Financial Centre.
Overall, it can get messy and confusing when someone dies without a will and of course it is a very emotional time for all the family. So, ensure you have a valid up to date will and you can then enjoy the Spring knowing your wishes will be carried out and life will be a little easier for the ones you leave behind.
If you would like to talk to one of our lawyers about a will please get in touch using the button below.
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