The technical term for dying without a Will is ‘dying intestate’. Instead of following the instructions in a Will a probate solicitor distributes the estate under intestacy rules. At Solomons Solicitors, our team can help you write or review your Will or advise on probate.
Contact our team today to find out how we can help you.
What happens if you or a relative dies without a Will?
Dying without a Will is relatively commonplace. It is estimated that two-thirds of adults in the UK do not have a Will. Probate solicitors are often told that a deceased intended to write a Will but did not get around to it or could not decide on what to put into a Will.
If a person dies without a Will their money and property (called their estate) are distributed under intestacy rules. In other words, Parliament gets to decide who receives the deceased’s estate. There is no room for discretion or rule-bending even though estate distribution under intestacy rules can produce results that do not seem fair to the family or to the loved ones of the person who has passed away.
The disadvantages of dying without a Will
There are several ways your family can be disadvantaged if you die without a Will, including:
- Administering an estate without a Will is more complex and time-consuming. The cost of administration comes out of your estate so there is less money to pass on to your relatives.
- The rules of intestacy may mean your estate is not left to your loved ones or to those who are financially dependent on you. They may have a potential claim against your estate but a claim involves an estate dispute Court application and additional time, stress, and expense.
- Writing a Will allows you to carry out estate planning to reduce your estate’s liability for inheritance tax. You can also choose who the executors of your estate are and you can make sure that your young children are protected after your death by appointing a testamentary guardian.
With the help of a specialist Will solicitor, writing a Will is straightforward. A solicitor can guide you on what to put in the Will or advise you when your Will needs to be reviewed so your Will continues to reflect your wishes.
The intestacy rules
If you die without a Will the law dictates who will receive your estate under intestacy rules. Who receives a share of your estate depends on your family relationships as the intestacy rules say:
- If you are married or in a civil partnership, your spouse will get the first £270,000 of your estate, half the remainder of the estate, and your possessions. Your children receive the other half of the balance of the estate over £270,000.
- If you are not married or in a civil partnership but have children your estate will be divided equally between your children.
- If you do not have a spouse, civil partner, or children your estate will be divided equally between your parents. If your parents have predeceased you then your estate passes to siblings (and to more distant relatives if you do not have any brothers or sisters).
The intestacy rules are rigid. If you are in an unmarried relationship, or if you have stepchildren, or if you support a local charity, none of them will receive a penny from your estate under the rules. However, an unmarried partner or a stepchild who is financially dependent on you could potentially bring a claim against your estate. Whilst that gives a potential legal remedy the expense and stress of court proceedings can be avoided by writing a Will that reflects your family circumstances and protects your loved ones.
Speak to our Bournemouth-based Will Solicitors today
Solomons Solicitors can help you with your Will so that you understand your options and you have the legal paperwork you need to provide peace of mind.