None of us relish the thought of our own demise which probably explains why approximately 70% of us have not made a Will. With no direction, who will inherit your worldly goods if you die without making a Will? The legal jargon is dying 'intestate'.
Consider Louis, 75 years old and deeply into avoidance when it comes to considering his estate. Let speculate that he died recently, and his estate was subject to the rules and regulations that apply in England. He is married, and his estate is worth more than £1m. He has two children, Kate and Ian, each with two children (Louis’s grandchildren). Louis has no time for his son and has no intention of leaving him a bean.
But Louis has no Will.
The remainder of his estate after costs and taxes (let’s say this is £1m) will be divided under the intestacy rules as follows:
• His wife will keep assets (including property) up to £250,000.
• His wife gets an absolute interest in half of what’s left, £375,000, and
• The other half is divided up between the two children, Kate and Ian.
Accordingly, and against his unwritten wishes, the errant son, Ian, received £187,500.
Louis’s family is a fairly typical structure, but there are numerous variations that can create all sorts of complications if there is no Will that expresses the deceased person’s wishes.
Perhaps the most alarming example is where a couple have lived together for some time but never married or created a civil partnership. The surviving partner in these circumstances would have no right to inherit if their partner did not leave a Will.
The remedy, obviously, is make a Will. If your affairs are straight-forward the cost should be affordable, and your immediate family will benefit from your estate based on your intentions, not the grey dictat of the rules of intestacy.