What Happens if you Don’t Leave a Valid Will?November 19, 2020
Writing a will rarely falls at the top of our list of priorities, but the fact remains that it is one of the most important things we can do, no matter the size of our estate or what our final wishes for it may be.
Passing away without a valid will in place can lead to a number of different issues for your loved ones, and can make it much more difficult for them to process your passing if their attention is being pulled toward sorting through your estate – and navigating the laws of intestacy – themselves.
Read more about some of the most common issues caused by the absence of a valid will.
Regarding Your Assets
The vast majority of us will hold some wishes for the distribution of our possessions and money, but we cannot trust that these will be met if we do not leave behind a valid will. Without one, your estate is subject to the rules of intestacy, which distribute your assets among your closest relations.
If you are married – and even if you are separated – your spouse or civil partner will stand to inherit the majority of your estate. Anything in excess of £270,000 will be distributed among your spouse and biological or adopted children, which precludes step-children who have not been adopted from inheriting.
If you have no living relatives, then your estate will pass to the government. Last year alone, this amounted to around £8 million in property – simply because people did not leave wills behind.
Regarding Your Family
Although you may not be able to envisage it right now, it is all too common for significant disputes to open up between family members when they are left without a will to provide unassailable directions for them to follow.
If, for instance, you have promised something to someone who would not stand to inherit anything under the laws of intestacy, then only by creating a will can you ensure that your promise will be kept. This can be incredibly upsetting and distressing for loved ones who are already trying to manage their grief; they may feel that they have been forgotten, and may need to go through the process of contesting a will in order to receive what they feel is owed to them.
This is a difficult and taxing procedure, and can serve to exacerbate rifts that have opened up between family members in the absence of a will. Creating one that acknowledges your loved ones in a way that you deem fair will act as a safeguard against these difficulties arising.
It is very difficult – and unpleasant – to imagine how our families will cope when we pass, but knowing that we have put in place clear, fair, and irrefutable instructions for the division of our assets is the best thing we can do to ensure that the practicalities do not detract from their ability to process their loss, and to feel provided and cared for.