Did you know that if you die without a valid Will in place, this is known as dying “Intestate”.

It’s easy to think you don’t need a Will, because your possessions will naturally go to your loved ones when you die. But don’t be so sure. In these circumstances, there are strict inheritance laws known as the Rules of Intestacy which will dictate who should inherit everything that you own, including your money, possessions, home and even your pets (as they are your “possessions” in law).

The Rules of Intestacy place family members in an order of priority, often not accommodating for modern family structures. Step children are not recognised under these rules and neither are unmarried partners, if you’re in a relationship but are not married or in a civil partnership you are single in the eyes of the law, even if you have children together and have cohabited for years. This means that everything you own (known collectively as your Estate) could be distributed in a way that you wouldn’t have wanted.

Benefits of Making a Will

“Peace of mind” is often the first thing that many of our Will writing customers say when they know that their Will is done.

When you make a Will, you can name the people or organisations that you would like to inherit from you. These are called your Beneficiaries. There are no restrictions on who you can choose as your Beneficiaries or how many Beneficiaries you can have. These could be friends, relatives, charities or other individuals or organisations.

You can choose to leave various percentages of your Estate to your Beneficiaries or you can state that you would like a specific item or specific sum of money to go to a Beneficiary. For example, you can say that you would like your watch to go to your nephew, Stephen, a sum of £1,000 to go to your niece, Lucy, and the rest to be split evenly between your siblings, Mark, Jane and Daniel.

You may want to leave an amount to be shared equally between your grandchildren, for example. In this instance, it’s best not to name the grandchildren individually, because if more grandchildren come along they would not be named in the Will.

If you’re married or in a civil partnership

If your estate is valued at less than £250,000 your spouse/civil partner will inherit everything.

If your estate is worth more, who gets what will depend on the overall value of your estate and whether you have any other surviving close relatives (e.g. parents, children, siblings or grandchildren).

Anything over £325,000 may be subject to inheritance tax, depending on who the money goes to.

Here’s how an estate worth over £250,000 could be divided up:

If you have children

Your spouse/civil partner will receive:

  • Your personal possessions
  • The first £250,000 of your estate
  • Half of anything that remains

Your children will receive the other half of anything that remains. ‘Children’ includes illegitimate and adopted children, but not step-children.

If you don’t have children

If you have no children, your spouse or civil partner will inherit everything.

The Role of Executors

You can name one or more Executors in your Will. The role of an Executor is to wind up your affairs and distribute your Estate in line with the terms of your Will. It’s important to appoint Executors that you trust, as this will be the person (or people) responsible for distributing your Estate in line with the law and the terms of your Will. An Executor can be someone who you have also named as a Beneficiary, but it doesn’t need to be.

Your Will also provides you with an opportunity appoint Guardians for any children that you have under the age of 18. This means that you’ll know your children will be taken care of by the right people after you pass away.

In addition, you can also use this opportunity to set out any funeral wishes that you have, so that your loved ones know exactly what to do when the time comes.

If you are worried about your not yet having a Will in place or Ii you’re put off making a Will because you think it will be time consuming, complicated or expensive to do, think again – speak to one of our financial advisers who can help arrange one for you with prices starting from just £98.00.