Over half of adults in the UK don’t have a will, meaning that each year, thousands of people leave it to the law to decide what should happen to their estate when they die.
Perhaps you haven’t had the chance to think about how you want your estate to be divided, or how your family should be cared for. You might not have thought about how to make a will at all.
Yet it’s vital that you make some plans to ensure that when you’re gone, those you care about are not left in a state of uncertainty and confusion during their time of grief.
All this misery can be avoided by making a will. With the help of a suitable expert, making a will is surprisingly easy and won’t take much time at all.
What happens if you die without making a will?
If you die without making a will you will have died ‘intestate’. This means that the law of intestacy decides who gets what and how much. It doesn’t matter what your relationship with each person was or what your wishes were.
According to the law, your wishes have no weight unless they were recorded in a legal will.
Under the rules of intestacy, there is a strict order in which each person may inherit. The rules decide how your estate is shared, and they often don’t take into account the unique dynamics of each family.
These are the most common problems when the rules of intestacy are applied:
Your partner could lose their home
Unmarried partners are not recognised by the rules of intestacy. If you’ve lived with someone for decades without marrying them or entering into a civil partnership, they won’t be entitled to your property or your estate. They may resort to taking action against your children to get their share.
Your family could end up with a hefty tax bill
Inheritance tax can be substantial, and you’ll want to ensure your family members benefit from your legacy as much as the law allows. An expert can advise you on how to draw up a will and plan your estate to keep inheritance tax to a minimum.
Your children may not be looked after according to your wishes
If you die without naming a guardian for your children, it’s left to the courts to decide. This can be very traumatic for your children and family, and there’s a chance that the courts grant custody to someone you would not have approved of.
Your family could end up in a dispute
Family disputes over wills are already on the rise. By not having a will at all, a family dispute is even more likely. Family members will be left at the mercy of the law to decide what they inherit, which may be completely contrary to what you promised them.
Your family may incur substantial legal costs
Your heirs may decide to sell your home, leaving your partner homeless. If your spouse remarries, their new partner could inherit their estate and yours, disinheriting your kids. These situations frequently lead to lengthy and costly legal battles.
If you’re thinking of drawing up a will and you’d like sympathetic professional advice, get in touch with our experts at Probate London by calling us on 020 8017 1029 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.