When someone dies without leaving a valid Will their estate will pass in accordance with the Intestacy Rules. The same is true if the passage of time means that some of the provisions fail because a beneficiary has died. Although jointly held assets (such as your house) may pass automatically to a surviving joint owner, assets in the deceased’s sole name will pass according to the Intestacy Rules, regardless of the wishes of the deceased or their family.

Difficulties can arise because the ‘statutory legacy’ destined for the spouse or civil partner is limited to £250,000 if the deceased had children. If the deceased’s property was in their sole name, the surviving spouse or civil partner could find themselves having to choose between keeping the house (or a share of it) or taking instead the cash element of the estate, comprising bank accounts, insurance, pension funds, shares and so on.

Executors appointed in a Will can begin dealing with your estate and carrying out your wishes immediately. However, by contrast, the individuals appointed as Administrators of an intestate estate must wait until they are formally appointed by the Probate Court. This invariably leads to unnecessary and distressing delays.

If your partner is not your spouse or Civil Partner then, if you fail to make a Will, they will not be automatically provided for and guardians will not be appointed for children under 18. Your estate will be administered by strict rules originally set out in 1925. These rules will certainly take no account of gifts you may otherwise have wished to make to friends, grandchildren, god-children or charities. In some extreme cases, your estate could pass to the individuals you would least wish to benefit.

An appropriately structured Will can also save your estate from incurring an inheritance tax liability, which could otherwise arise. Even if your estate is relatively small and your wishes are straightforward, the process your family has to deal with will be much less complicated if you have made a Will. Contact us today to discuss our home visit Wills service.