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Having a Will vs Chancing the Intestacy Rules

Having a Will vs Chancing the Intestacy Rules

Many people expect a Will is unnecessary to their estate for many reasons, such as perhaps they believe that because they own assets jointly with another person; or they are married, their estate will go exactly where they need it to go in any event.

Or they miscalculate what is actually in their estate because of focusing on what they have during their lifetime, rather than what they might have after death. Here are a few reasons a Will may be necessary:

  • life assurance payouts
  • certain pension payments
  • future inheritances or assets to be held in Trust
  • to continue to pass on family heirlooms
  • to make provision for pets
  • to provide for an unmarried partner and even spouse (see below)
  • to take account of lifetime lump sums given to one [child] by balancing out the lump sum to other [children]
  • to make provision for relatives such as grandchildren or
  • to protect the estate assets from being lost if for example a spouse remarries, divorces, is declared bankrupt or needs care home care after inheriting.

Perhaps the most common misconception is that spouses inherit everything from each other anyway under the Intestacy Rules.

Intestacy Rules are forced heirship Rules set by the Government in the event a person dies without a Will and the relevant Rules to an estate are the Rules in force at the date of a person’s death. It is worth bearing in mind that the Rules do change quite frequently.

Currently, if a person died without a Will during the 2019 Rules, their estate would pass in the following way depending on whether the deceased was:

unmarried with no children – the estate passes back to their parents equally (even if divorced or estranged) and then down their siblings’ bloodline line or to Aunts & Uncles if they never had siblings. This is the case even if they own property with a long-term partner depending on how the property was held. This would likely result in the partner having to bring a claim against the estate to retain their home.

unmarried with children – the estate passes entirely between their children equally regardless of age or estrangement, even if the deceased had property with a long-term partner, depending on how the property was held. This could result in a claim being brought by either or both the children and/or the partner depending on circumstances.

married with no children – the estate passes entirely to the spouse. This hasn’t always been the case as the spouse previously only inherited the estate up to £450,000 and the remainder passed back to the deceased’s parents etc so it should not be relied upon that the Rules will stay as they currently are.

married with children – the spouse inherits all of the estate up to £270,000 plus all personal belongings. Anything over £270,000 is divided 1/2 to spouse and 1/2 between the children (even children from a previous marriage). Given that property prices in the UK are often over £270,000 this can cause complications. Again this could again result in claims being brought against the estate. It also has not always been the case that the spouse inherits 1/2 of anything over £270,000. Previously they only inherited a life interest so again it should not be replied upon that the Rules will stay as they currently are.

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