Writing a Will is often an activity that many put off, either avoiding the fees involved or avoiding having to address the morbid practicalities of what should happen to your investments and estate once you’re gone.
It’s not the easiest subject to address, however getting your Will written is one of the most important tasks you will carry out in your lifetime.
Dying intestate (i.e. without a Will) can have huge repercussions on your loved ones.
The only way to guarantee that your assets are left to those who matter most, and not taken into possession by the crown, is to write a will.
What could happen to my assets if I don’t write a Will?
DRN have done the research for you and pulled together a list of six possibilities that your family could encounter if you pass away intestate.
It could lead to an unexpected tax bill
The law allows you to leave at least the first £325,000 of your estate to your heirs tax-free. However, anything above this sum may be liable for inheritance tax, charged at a rate of 40%. This can be avoided if you leave everything to your spouse in a Will, in which case there would be no inheritance tax to pay.
It could leave your spouse or partner worse off
Anything you own jointly with your partner, including any property you own as joint tenants or any funds that are held in joint accounts, will automatically pass to the joint owner. This may or may not be your partner.
The other assets of your estate will be dealt with under the intestacy rules and do not automatically pass to a partner.
In England and Wales, the current law ensures that your spouse receives the first £250,000 and half of whatever exceeds this sum, with the remainder split between your children. If you do not have children, different rules apply.
If you don’t have a Will, your estate could go to the Crown
In most cases in the UK, if you don’t have family to pass your estate along to, it will fall into the possession of the Crown. If you reside in Cornwall or Lancashire and this is the case, the estate will pass to the Duchy, who in turn generally donates it to charity.
You won’t be able to specify who should receive heirlooms and items of sentimental value
There may be items of value, such as collectibles or family heirlooms, that you hold dear and would like to be passed along to the right people following your death – those you know will take good care of the items and see the value in them that you see. The only way to guarantee that these items end up in the right hands is to specify which items should be passed to whom in your Will.
Simply promising certain items to particular children, friends and family members whilst you’re alive unfortunately isn’t enough, and if a Will is not written, again they will pass under the intestacy rules and may pass to your spouse. In cases of second and third marriages these items may have no value at all to the surviving spouse.
Your stepchildren won’t receive anything
You will need to outline your intentions for your step-children in your Will as, unless you have formally adopted them, even if you’ve raised a stepchild as your own, they will not receive anything of yours after you’ve passed under the rules of intestacy.
Your assets could be inherited by a separated spouse
Unless you are fully divorced, the law will see you as a spouse upon your death. This is the case even for those who have been separated for a number of years and have moved on to live with another partner. Without a divorce registered and a decree absolute obtained, your estranged spouse will be entitled to some or all of your estate if you do not have a Will.
Choose DRN to help you with writing your Will
If you’re seeking the peace of mind that your assets and financial affairs will be dealt with according to your preferences upon your death, making a Will or setting up a trust are amongst the best ways you can make sure your wishes are fulfilled.
It’s never too early to put plans in place, and our team can provide practical, honest and informed advice on the various aspects involved when securing your loved ones’ futures.
The professionals at DRN will always take the time to fully understand your needs and wishes, approaching your case with the individual attention that it deserves.
Contact us today to find out how our expert Wills and probate team of solicitors can help to get your affairs in order.