Recent reports in the media have highlighted an increasing number of queries from people dealing with the administration of estates of loved ones who have either not made a Will, or their Will is not properly executed and therefore invalid.
What happens if someone dies without leaving a Will?
When a person dies without leaving a valid Will, their estate falls to be distributed in accordance with the Intestacy Rules. The Intestacy Rules prescribe a strict order in which relatives of the deceased stand to inherit and can often result in very distant relatives who may not even have known the deceased inheriting a share of their estate. An Intestacy can therefore often result in a period of delay whilst the relevant beneficiaries are identified and then traced.
Estates which pass in accordance with the Intestacy Rules are also more likely to become the subject of litigation, as those who had a reasonable expectation of being provided for by the deceased and have missed out due to the application of the Rules may be able to bring a claim for financial provision from the Estate. For example, on an Intestacy unmarried partners or cohabitees do not stand to inherit under the Intestacy Rules and may be able to bring a claim against the Estate.
How to ensure your wishes are carried out
The only way to ensure the people or charities you want to inherit your estate do so is to make a Will. Ultimately if no relatives entitled to inherit can be found the estate will pass to the Crown.
Making a Will also provides the opportunity to seek advice with regard to effective Inheritance Tax planning.
You can read further about this issue in this BBC news item.
Making a Will
Contact Hart Reade to make an appointment to draft or renew your Will with an experienced and qualified legal professional or to seek advice on any of these issues.