It may not be something you often think about or even consider a priority, but many people do not appreciate that if you die without making a will, then your assets may not end up in the hands of those you intended to benefit.
Any verbal or written requests you may have made regarding the passing of property, savings or personal items to individuals or organisations will generally be ineffective. Instead, you will be deemed “intestate” and your estate will be divided in accordance with a set of statutory rules which leave everything to your next of kin in a fixed order. Depending on the value of your assets and your family circumstances, this could mean that your spouse and children would share the estate.
A spouse is entitled to a fixed statutory legacy, the remainder being left to a trust fund partly for the benefit of the spouse and partly for the benefit of the children. These fixed statutory rules do not provide for friends, unmarried partners or charities that you may have supported. If you do not have any qualifying next of kin, the whole of your estate could go to the Crown.
Where there’s a Will…..
You may think well, that is not a problem, I have a Will which I drew up myself using the very helpful package from the stationers or from the internet. People often make homemade wills thinking that this is an easy, straightforward and often cheaper, option. Sometimes, a poorly drafted homemade will can be more troublesome than having no will at all!
A will is a legally binding document which is generally best left to an experienced professional to prepare. The wrong wording can drastically alter the meaning of a clause in a will, leading to a bequest that you did not intend to make or one which does not take effect at all. There are also problems when wills are not properly signed or witnessed, altered in any way after being signed and failing to properly dispose of your assets, which can lead to an intestacy and your assets being distributed as described above.
If you wish to protect your loved ones and make sure they are properly cared for after your death then we would recommend you see a Wills specialist in our Private Client Department to discuss the making of a Will or the amendment of an existing Will.