Are you aware that if you die without a will, then there is a statutory framework in place, dictating who gets your estate?
When a person dies without a will and is married, or in a civil partnership and does not have children, all of the estate passes to the surviving spouse or civil partner. If the person who dies without a will has both a spouse, or civil partner and children, then the surviving spouse or civil partner takes the statutory legacy (currently £322,000), personal belongings and half of the residuary estate. The other half of the residuary estate passes to the intestate’s children.
If you are not married or in a civil partnership, but have children, then the estate passes to children.
So, what happens if you die without a Will?
If you die without a will it is quite likely that these statutory provisions will be less than ideal for your personal circumstances. They may also cause practical problems for those you leave behind and may lead to loved ones having to consider court action.
The common misconception:
A common misconception which prevails is that a cohabitee has automatic rights to their partner’s estate on death, if they have lived together for many years. This is not the case and the latest intestacy provisions, which were updated in 2014, did not change that. If you are living with a partner then it is vital that you consider what would happen on the death of either one of you and make sure that you have the right arrangements in place, through a valid will.
What would happen if you’re separated, but not divorced?
Another important consideration that people need to be aware of is that if you die, separated from your spouse or civil partner, then your whole estate would pass to them, unless you are actually divorced.
Clearly nothing beats taking the time to consider your personal circumstances, assess your financial position and take stock of who you need to provide for. Then seek the advice of a qualified, insured solicitor to prepare a will that meets with all of your requirements.