Let us imagine a scenario:
Thomas is in an unmarried relationship, and his parents are deceased. He has one sister whom he’s estranged from. However, his sister has a daughter Molly who he has promised to provide funds for college. Unfortunately, Thomas dies unexpectedly before putting this information into a will.
Although he has told friends and other family members of his plan to pay for Molly’s university, Thomas’s entire estate is subject to the laws of intestate. What this means is that Thomas’s sister, who he is estranged from, may inherit his entire estate and may or may not use the money to pay for Molly’s schooling.
Dying in a State of Intestacy
Dying without a valid will is called “dying intestate” or in a “state of “intestacy.” In the United Kingdom, about one-third of the population die intestate. This leads to a large amount of stress and suffering as well as extra expenses for loved ones and family members.
When someone dies without a will, their assets are frozen until the court system combs through every detail of the estate. This process is very time-consuming and can be exhausting to surviving family members. The common misconception is that when someone passes, the serving relatives will decide how an estate is to be treated and divided; however, this is not the case.
There are actually strict rules in place that determine how an estate is to be managed and divided. In many cases, this will mean that the money will go to the government. The only way to avoid this is to have a fully legal will in place. A will guarantees your wishes are met and that your family will be protected after you are gone.
In a marriage or civil partnership, the first listed beneficiary will be the surviving partner, but this may not be who necessarily inherits the whole estate. The inheritance is dependent on which blood relatives survive the deceased. For unmarried couples, problems can occur as the surviving partner will not automatically have rights in the same way that a married spouse would.
Similarly, if you are separated but not yet divorced from a spouse, they will still have an automatic claim to your estate unless it is specified in a valid will Stepchildren and illegitimate children are also a concern when dying intestate. Wills Trust LPA can help you set up the proper will so that your last wishes will be ensured and that your family is cared for properly after your death.
What Happens Without a Will in Place
To learn what will happen to your children, money, and other assets if you pass without a will, continue reading below.
If you pass without a will in place, your money and where it goes will be decided by the courts. The court will appoint a personal representative to oversee the distribution of your belongings. For certain assets like retirement accounts and life insurance policies, those will be designated to the stated beneficiaries.
Children’s rights will be placed in the hands of the court if you die intestate without a guardian in place. Without a will, a single parent with no will is leaving the guardianship of her child or children in the hands of the court.
The court will determine what is best; unfortunately, they will not know the family dynamic. Maybe the children spend their weekends with a family friend who has been there since their birth.
If no will be present, the children will most likely be given to an appropriate blood relative they may have never even met before. Without a will, it is impossible to guarantee that a child or children will end up in the household of their parent’s choosing.
Single, Married, or Civil Partnership
If you are single and do not have a will, several scenarios can take place. If you have children, then they will most likely inherit your entire estate. Without children, then your parents, if they are still alive, will take charge of your estate. If your parents should not be alive, then siblings are generally the next consideration for inheritance.
For those who are married, a surviving spouse will typically take charge of the estate. However, it can get complicated if this is the second or third marriage and there are stepchildren involved. This is why it is imperative to have a will in place so that your family is protected and receives what you wish.
Like a marriage, any will you have previously will be void in a civil partnership. The only way to keep this from happening is to make your will “in contemplation” of your civil partnership and naming the person you intend to enter the partnership with.
If you should convert your civil partnership to same-sex marriage, this will not void your will. When same-sex marriage was legalised in the UK, new regulations were enacted to keep previous wills from being voided. To understand more about civil partnership and the importance of having a will, contact us at wills Trust LPA to learn more.
Dying intestate can be very difficult for all involved. This is especially true of those with disabilities or those who care for a disabled person. Continue reading below about powers during incapacity and the importance of having a will.
Powers During Incapacity
Protecting both spouses in cases of disability is key. The disabled and non-disabled spouse and the beneficiaries should not be left in an upheaval upon the death of another.
It is important to ensure that the non-disabled spouse does not squander the trust’s assets. Just as well as it is important to ensure the disabled spouse receives the appropriate care. These are important considerations when drafting a will.
In situations of accidents or terminal illness, it must be made certain that the non-incapacitated spouse is taken care of during the incapacity. This is particularly important when they are financially dependent on the disabled spouse. Having a will in place will ensure that if the disabled spouse passes, the surviving spouse has enough assets for future care.
Considerations When Drafting a Will for a Disabled Spouse
1. Should a power of attorney have the right to amend the trust?
2. Who gets primary consideration during the incapacity?
– The disabled spouse
– The disabled spouse’s children
– The non-disabled spouse
– Someone else
3. Should a trustee have rights to gift from the trust to facilitate tax or disability planning?
Without a will in cases of disability, the finances and care for those left behind after your death will be subject to the rules of intestacy. Wills Trust LPA Online can help answer your questions about disability planning for you or your family. We also have a service where you can simply write a will online that is fully legal under English & Welsh law.
From your children to your money and spouse, it is so important to create or update your will when your circumstances change. Be sure to inform your family and friends when you change your will, and be sure to let them know where your signed will is located. Contact Wills Trusts LPA Online so we can walk you through creating a will for yourself online.