This week the Independent reported that a survey conducted by Macmillan Cancer Support of 2000 people showed that “nearly two thirds of UK adults don’t have a Will” and more worryingly, that included 42% of over 55s.
Many people think that if they die without a Will 100% of their estate will automatically pass to their husband/wife. If a person in England and Wales does not have a Will, their estate will be distributed pursuant to the intestacy rules as set out below:
- If the deceased has a wife or husband but no surviving children, grandchildren or great grandchildren then the husband/wife will inherit the whole estate
- If there is a wife/husband and surviving children, grandchildren or great grandchildren and the estate is worth more than £250,000 the husband/wife will inherit:
- All the personal property and belongings of the deceased;
- The first £250,000 of the estate; and
- Half of the remaining estate (the other half will go to the surviving children or if there are none the surviving grandchildren)
- If there is no surviving spouse but there are surviving children they will inherit 100% of the estate.
It is worth remembering that any property owned jointly (for example a joint bank account or a house held as joint tenants) will pass automatically to the other joint owner outside of the intestacy rules.
Even those that have made a Will could end up with their estate passing in a way they had not intended if they do not update it as necessary. Many people are unaware that a Will is revoked upon marriage unless that Will specifically states that marriage to that certain individual will not revoke it. Therefore, it is important to consider changing your Will at least every few years and especially at major life events (such as getting married or divorced or after the birth of child or grandchild) or your property may end up passing against your wishes. According to the survey, one in ten people admitted that they had planned to update their Will to include children or grandchildren but had not yet got round to it.
We all get caught up in the stresses of everyday life but one day it will be too late to ensure that your estate passes pursuant to your wishes. Take the important step of making or reviewing your Will to avoid leaving your loved ones in the difficult and costly position of making or defending a claim against your estate.
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