If you die without making a Will then the law makes sure that your assets go to your nearest relatives – this is called the rules of intestacy. While this might seem like a good solution, it can have unexpected consequences.
Here Carolyn Snellgrove, our Wills & Probate specialist, lists 8 things you might not realise could happen if you don’t have a Will:
1. “Common law spouse” does not exist
If you aren’t married, then nothing will go to your partner at all, no matter how long you have lived together. Your estate may go to your children, parents or siblings instead of them.
2. Second marriage / relationship
If you are married to someone who isn’t the parent of your children then your estate may go to your spouse and you end up leaving nothing at all to your children. Likewise, if you have step-children who you want to provide for, this will not happen under the rules of intestacy.
3. Different outcome depending on order of death
If everything goes to your spouse on your death, are you happy with everything going to their children / family rather than yours when they die? This can be particularly important if you die ‘together’ but one of you is deemed to have died first.
4. Relatives you don’t like
If there is a relative you don’t get on with then they might still receive from your estate under the rules of intestacy. The rules can’t be altered after your death unless that person agrees.
5. Providing for children in the best way
If you want to provide for children then you should make sure that the best possible provisions are in place for them.
6. Specific gifts
If there is a particular item you have promised to give you someone then you need to include that in your Will or it automatically goes to your closest relative/s.
Who do you want acting as your executors to deal with your estate? A Will allows you to appoint the best person for the job. If you don’t then it may be that the job goes to someone who isn’t able to deal with things efficiently or who gets very stressed because of it.
8. Funeral Wishes
If you don’t write your wishes down somewhere then your family may not know your preference for burial or cremation or anything else you want at your funeral.
Each of these potential problems with intestacy can be dealt with easily if you have some personal advice and a well drafted Will.
However simple you think your estate is, it is worth taking advantage of our initial free half hour appointment to have a quick review of your personal situation as it is now.