The law sets out clear rules what will happen to your Estate – property, personal possessions and cash – if you die without a Will. Passing away without a Will is known in legal terms as dying Intestate and the rules that govern the distribution of the Estate in such circumstances is known as the Law of Intestacy.
Under the Administration of Estates Act 1925 the spouse and children do not automatically receive everything in the deceased’s Estate. Invariably the surviving spouse is treated harshly because the widow’s entitlement is limited to the sum of £250,000 plus personal effects and any accounts held in joint names, with limited interest in only half the balance which remains after that which may pass to any children.
If there are no children, surviving siblings or parents then the surviving spouse or civil partner under the Guidelines of the Civil Partnership 2004, takes the sum of £250,000 and one half of the balance, with the other relatives taking the other half.
The surviving spouse or civil partner can only take the whole estate if there are no surviving children, siblings or parents.
SO WHY MAKE A WILL?
It is clear from recent government statistics and in conjunction with the Chancery Division of the High Court, Probate Registry that two thirds of the population of Britain die each year without making a Will, creating much heartache and anguish for the loved ones they leave behind. The most common time for families to fall out is at a funeral when emotions are already running high and the event is further charged by distant relatives or indeed close members of the family asking the question “well what did the deceased leave me?” Indeed it is quite common for a high percentage of litigation cases to involve disgruntled relatives following the death of a loved one.
The most recent example being Gill v RSPCA 2010 which could have some serious consequences and escalation of serious costs which will be borne by the Estate or the parties involved in legal action.
Your Will may be as simple or as complicated as you like, however the outcome will be the same, leaving what you have to whom you would like to receive it.
In the first instance a consultation is normally beneficial so that we may discuss your requirements and in turn draft it into a document that we hope you will be satisfied with for the foreseeable future or until such time that your circumstances change.
It is our intention that you do not become just another statistic in the blame and shame society.
SO WHY SHOULD I REGULARLY REVIEW MY WILL?
If you made your Will some time ago it might be time to review it especially after the changing of personal circumstances such as marriage, divorce, new addition to the family, death of a family member or a move.
A change to your financial situation, an increase in your property value and even new tax laws and legislations can also make an update to your Will necessary. A valid Will is vital if you want to avoid any misunderstandings after your death and will avoid costly and lengthy litigation. If you remarry for instance, your current Will is no longer valid and you die under the rules of Intestacy and the State will decide who will benefit from your Estate.
If you remarry you will also need to make a new Will that specifically takes into account your new marriage particularly if you wish to leave your Estate to children from your previous marriage or to your new partner on the provision that your Estate reverts to your children on his or her death.
A review helps you to be sure that the people or charities you want to benefit from your Will will continue to do so. Often changing your Will can be as simple as drawing up a codicil (an addition or change to existing) that can be signed and kept with your existing Will.