What happens if you die without making a Will?
Have you been putting off making a Will because you are married or in a civil partnership and assume that your widow, widower or surviving civil partner will inherit everything? This is a common misunderstanding and sadly it is not always the case.
Anyone who dies without a will is said to have died ‘intestate’. There are legal rules, called the intestacy rules, that set out who inherits (and how much).
Where there are no children, the spouse or civil partner will inherit the entire estate.
However, where there are children, the surviving husband, wife or civil partner will receive all the personal property of their spouse/partner and a specified amount, known as the statutory legacy. From 6th February 2020, the statutory legacy will increase from £250,000 to £270,000 and applies to estates where a person dies on or after this date.
If the estate of the person who has died is worth £270,000 or less, their entire estate passes to their surviving spouse or partner. If the estate is more than £270,000 passes to the survivor and the remainder will be divided equally into one half for the survivor and the other half between any children. This can lead to financial difficulties and unintended consequences.
A child (under 18) cannot inherit immediately. The share that they inherit is held (on trust) for them until they reach 18. On their eighteenth birthday, they will be entitled to any inheritance and can use it as they choose. If you think 18 is too young for your children to inherit (and many of us do!) you should make a Will. You have the choice in your Will to hold back their inheritance until they are older – many of our clients choose the age of 21 and some opt for 25. You can decide what age is the most appropriate for your children.
If you are not married or in a civil partnership, your life partner will not automatically inherit. To choose how, when and to whom your assets are passed, you should make a Will.
To receive a copy of our What happens if you die without a Will flowchart by email, please get in touch using our contact form. Your first consultation is free and without obligation. Our fees are fixed and set out in advance. No nasty surprises.