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What Happens if I Don't Have a Will?

Dying without a valid Will is known as intestacy. But what’s the worst that could happen if you don’t have a Will?

1. Asset distribution

Under the Intestacy Rules, the law decides who gets what and how much. This is irrespective of your relationship with those people when you were alive. For example, your assets could be passed on to an estranged family member.

2. Unmarried and partner has children

If you are unmarried but your partner has children, the law usually stipulates that the children get everything, leaving you with nothing of your partner’s estate.

3. Married/civil partners with children

If you are married or civil partners with children or grandchildren, your spouse will receive the first £270,000 of your estate, plus half of everything above that amount. The rest will go to any children or grandchildren. This might also count if you are separated, but not legally.

4. Unmarried/no civil partnership

Without a Will, if you are not married or in a civil partnership, your partner will not receive any of your estate, no matter the circumstances of how long you have been together.

5. Step-children

Step-children will receive nothing if there is no Will unless they have been legally adopted.

6. No surviving blood relatives

If you have no surviving blood relatives, your entire estate will be passed to the Crown, and anybody you wish to take care of through your estate may be left with nothing, including friends, in-laws, charities and even your pets.

7. Estate value

If your estate is worth less than £270,000, your spouse or civil partner will inherit everything, and your children will inherit nothing.

8. Inheritance Tax

If you die without a Will, it’s possible that any Inheritance Tax that must be paid from your estate would be higher than if you had made a Will.

9. Legal Costs

Dealing with someone’s estate who has not left a Will can be very complex and take months, or even years. The legal costs involved in this process significantly outweigh the cost of having a Will in the first place, and the additional pressure it adds to your loved ones during their time of grief can be considerable.

To summarise...

Without a legal Will in place, your estate may not be distributed in a way you would want when you die, and those people you want to look
after might be left without any inheritance.

Nikki Spencer
  • Senior Solicitor

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