Probate Wills

No Will? Possibilities of issues may arise…The rules of intestacy

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Death is not really a topic that people will think about, or want to think about, on a daily basis however making sure that you are best prepared for the eventuality may cause you and your loved ones less stress in the future. It is more and more understood that individuals need to have a valid Will prepared during their lifetimes in order to instruct the executors of your estate to distribute your assets how you want them to be distributed. This gives individuals peace of mind because at least they have then controlled who in their family / friends is to get what from the estate.

What happens if you do not have a will?

There is however a large proportion of individuals who do not write a valid Will. As such, this can cause quite a few problems because rather than the death potentially following the route of a probate, a more complicated route of intestacy may need to be followed. Here we will look at what this means, and the consequences of an individual dying intestate.

What is intestacy?

This is effectively where an individual dies without leaving a will. What are the rules of intestacy and did they change recently? The rules were updated in October 2014 and the rules for England are slightly different to those used in Scotland. Following intestacy means that the estate of the deceased will be divided according to a specific and fixed set of rules. This is entirely irrespective of what your actual intentions and therefore may mean that your estate is divided in a way you did not want – therefore having a will in place is extremely important.

The rules of intestacy

So, what are the rules of dividing up your estate?
  1. If you die with an estate worth less than £250k and were married or in a civil partnership and have no children then the whole amount goes to your husband, wife or civil partner.
  2. If you die with an estate in excess of £250k and were married or in a civil partnership but did not have any children, then the estate will pass to your husband, wife or civil partner absolutely.
  3. If you die with an estate in excess of £250k and were married or in a civil partnership and had any living children/grandchildren/other direct descendants, then:
    1. Personal items, and assets (up to the first £250k) are kept by the husband, wife or civil partner.
    2. The remainder of the estate is split as follows:
      1. Absolutely interest in half of this remainder for the husband, wife or civil partner, and
      2. The other half is split equally between the surviving children.
  4. If you die with an estate in excess of £250k, and were not married or in a civil partnership but had children, the estate is split equally among your children.
Of course the above is merely a simple overview as those estates that follow the rules of intestacy can become extremely complicated due to the deceased not having direct lineal descendants or partners or civil partners. As such, it is hugely important that you seek professional advice in relation to the rules and ensure that the estate is correctly administered and distributed accordingly. If you want to discuss this in more detail then please speak with one of our probate specialists on 020 8429 9245 or email [email protected].

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