What happens if I die without a Will?

Last will and testament document

In some instances, people sadly die without having had chance to create a Will. When this happens, they are described as having died ‘intestate’, meaning their estate will be distributed according to the law and rules of intestacy. This can also be the case if a Will is not valid; it’s thought that over half of UK adults are without a valid Will.

Even if your wishes and intentions were to distribute your estate in a particular way, unfortunately in England and Wales (the rules are different in Scotland), these fixed set of rules might mean your assets aren’t distributed the way you want, or expect!

By leaving a Will that clearly states exactly how you wish your property, money and jewellery etc. to be distributed amongst your family and friends, you can prevent a lot of unnecessary heartache at what is already a sad time for them.

If you die without a Will, these rules could apply to you:

- If you have a partner and are not married, your partner will not be legally entitled to your assets when you die.

- If you are married, your husband or wife could inherit all of your assets and leave nothing for your children (this includes even if you are separated, but not if you are divorced).

- The Crown or Government will inherit your estate if you have no living relatives upon your death this law is known as bona vacantia.

Unless stated in a Will, the following people have no right to inherit:

- Unmarried partners (otherwise known as common-law partners).

- Lesbian or gay partners not in a civil partnership.

- Relations by marriage.

- Close friends.

- Carers.

- Charities you support.

It is extremely common for couples to jointly own a home or bank account. If you and your partner are ‘beneficial joint tenants’ at the time of your death, your partner will automatically inherit your share of the property. However, your partner will not automatically inherit your share if you are ‘tenants in common’. With a joint bank account, your partner will automatically inherit the money associated with this particular account upon your death.

Making a Will doesn’t need to be difficult or a long process. Our team of Will and Probate experts are on hand to ensure you protect your assets and leave them to your loved ones. Get in touch today for more information and to see how we can help.

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