The perils of dying without a Will

9th December 2020

The Law Society and the consumer expert, Which? have recently reported a record increase in will-making during the current global crisis. However, an estimated 40% of the UK public still do not have a Will in place. Our private client lawyers look at what happens when dying without a Will.

Where there is no Will…

As we enter the second wave of the pandemic, the deaths of celebrities like Rik Mayall and Aretha Franklin who both died having not prepared a Will, remind us of what can happen when one dies suddenly without a Will in place.

In June 2014, the comedian and actor Rik Mayall died unexpectedly without a Will. Whilst still grieving his sudden death, his family were left faced with a significant tax bill on his £1.2m estate.

In Franklin’s case (who died in 2018), her family were left with the challenging task of establishing the value of her estate and distributing this. The process continues.

Why make a Will?

Many people do not make a Will, thinking that they are too young to need one or do not have anything of value to leave to their families.

By making a Will you can control how your estate is to be divided and ensure that your loved ones are provided for financially at a stressful time. This is particularly important when you have young children or are part of an unconventional family set up such as those with step-children or unmarried couples.

Dying without a Will (legally known as dying intestate) can also complicate matters if you co-own personal assets or own foreign or business interests.

In the absence of a valid Will the UK law dictates who is entitled to your estate. Even if the courts decide to distribute your assets to those you would have chosen as your heirs, this could take years to sort out, increasing the legal costs and in some cases the tax liabilities.

A well drafted Will can offer security and peace of mind. It will protect you and your family from potentially a much more costly outcome and minimise family disputes. It can also ensure that the deceased’s business continues to operate for future generations.

What can Blake Morgan do for you?

Our team is very experienced in providing advice tailored to your specific needs. We offer specialist estate tax planning advice for domestic and international clients with complex family dynamics and high net worth estates. If you would like to speak with a member of our team about drafting a Will, please contact our Succession & Tax lawyers.

This article was co-written by Arshoo Singh and Lauren Buckmaster.

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