What happens if you die without a will?
Despite the risks of dying without a Will (referred to as dying intestate), 60% of the population are still not putting their affairs in order before it’s too late to do so. Wills are not just for those of advancing years, while the truth may be uncomfortable to consider, we are all vulnerable to accident or disease on any given day.
Drafting a Will is important to ensure your wishes are carried out after your death, and for family members who will be coming to terms with your departure, the stress and anxiety of fighting for inheritance will be alleviated.
Why should you draft a Will?
Wills are not solely focused on how the family estate will be apportioned, although this is a key reason to write a Will, other important information is laid out including:
- Chosen Executors, Trustees, and Guardians
- Any additions or amendments to statutory administration provisions
- Wishes regarding whether you wish to be buried or cremated and your funeral arrangements
- Details of non-family members who will be left money or items
- Arrangements for the continuation of Trusts, annuities, and legacies
Wills are also used to structure the Testator's estate in a tax-efficient manner and reduce Inheritance Tax.
Without a Will, the rule of Intestacy will apply
The primary reason to draft a Will, however, is to avoid dying intestate; a situation whereby the decisions regarding what happens to your estate are made for you by predefined rules – the Rules of Intestacy. These rules define the order in which family will benefit from the estate of the deceased individual; spouses/civil partners, children/grandchildren, parents, siblings, grandparents, then uncles and aunties. Under the Rules, if there are children involved, the first £250,000 of an estate will transfer to the spouse/civil partner, plus half of the remainder – with the children receiving the other half of the residual estate.
It is natural to assume that after death, your family will act fairly and cooperatively in respect of inheritance. Unfortunately, not having a Will to refer to can lead to family discord. Wills are highly beneficial because they make your wishes clear, thereby removing the potential for arguments following your death. Also, without a Will, part of your estate may pass to family members with who you have little involvement or who you would expressly not wish to receive part of your estate.