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The Dangers of Dying without a will - Intestacy Explained

It’s easy to put off making a will – but unexpected illness and accidents can strike at any time. Whilst that might seem dramatic, and it’s not a pleasant thought, dying without a will in place can have serious consequences for your surviving family members.

Many people put off making a will because they assume that their possessions and money will automatically go to the right people when they die.

In reality, if you die without a valid will in place, then your estate will be divided in accordance with strict intestacy rules, and only certain family members and blood relatives will be eligible to inherit. In this post, we take a look at what happens if you die intestate, outlining how your wealth will be divided up, and the problems this can cause.

What are the current intestacy rules?

Who can inherit under the current intestacy rules depends on the personal situation of the deceased.

Married couples/civil partners (no children)

If a married person or someone in a civil partnership dies without a will, and has no children, then their spouse will inherit the entire estate, including all personal possessions, property, cash and assets.

Married couples/civil partners (with children)

In this scenario, the spouse will inherit all the personal chattels, and the first £250,000 of the estate (or all of it if valued at less than £250,000). They will then be entitled to half of the value of the remaining estate.

The other half of the value of the estate over £250,000 will be divided equally between the deceased’s children (including any adopted children). Should any of these children have already died, their portion can pass on to their children.

Single people, long term partners and common law partners

Long-term partners/common law partners receive nothing, regardless of how long the couple have been together. Instead the estate is divided up equally between the deceased’s children if they have any, or the parents if not. Should the deceased have no surviving children, then the estate will pass on to their closest blood relatives, in descending order:

  • Siblings
  • Half-siblings
  • Grandparents
  • Uncle/Aunt
  • Half-aunt/half-uncle

The risks of dying without a will

The biggest risk of dying without a will in place is that your estate is divided up in ways you never intended, and that your loved ones, close friends and preferred family members don’t benefit as you want them to when you die.

Money can be a divisive force, and should your closest relatives, family members and friends not benefit as they think they aught to, this can cause unnecessary division, conflict and division at an emotional time.

There are also other things to consider, like inheritance tax, business succession and what should be done with the family home, and dying without a will in place can have a serious knock-on impact on all of these.

The message is simple – the only way to ensure that your friends, family and loved ones benefit exactly as you want them to after you are gone is to make a will, and to keep it updated.

Additional information

Thinking of making a will, but don’t know where to begin?

Download the free Ultimate Guide to Wills & Probate today, and find clear, simple answers to everything you wanted to ask about wills, inheritance and probate.



Download Ultimate Guide to Wills and Probate Guide

Download Ultimate Guide to Wills and Probate Guide

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