53% of adults in the UK don’t have a will according to statistics from research carried out by Willaid.org. That’s over half the UK population of adults who have no control over what happens to their estate when they die. The best case scenario if you don’t have a will is that your descendants inherit what you’d like them to have by accident. The absolute worst case scenario is that everything goes to the state.
If you die without a will then the intestacy rules will apply to whatever you leave behind. Under these rules only your husband, wife, civil partner – or a few other close relatives – can inherit your assets and possessions. Spouses or civil partners will usually inherit the first £250,000 of the estate and half of the remaining estate, as well as all personal possessions of the deceased. Any other living relatives, such as children or grandchildren will split the rest. However, it’s worth noting that children and grandchildren won’t inherit anything under the intestacy rules if an estate is not worth more than £250,000, as anything under that goes entirely to a spouse or civil partner.
Complex family ties
In an age of complex family situations there are any number of problems that could arise as a result of not having a will. If you are separated but not divorced, for example, the intestacy rules will transfer the first £250,000 of your estate to your legal partner, regardless of whether you have met a new partner or have an acrimonious relationship with your ex. Couples who are living together but are not married have no right to inherit under intestacy rules and if you want your children to receive the bulk of your estate then this is impossible unless you decide to make a will.
More than just assets
Perhaps one of the most often overlooked aspects of the necessity of making a will is what it allows you to do outside of the transfer of assets. For example, if you have children then you can use a Will to appoint a guardian for them. The same goes for pets or other dependent relatives – if you don’t leave a will then there is no record of your wishes and no binding legal document that requires those wishes to be carried out. While many of us avoid the question of making a will because we don’t want to think about death, it can actually be an enormous relief to know that those you love will be taken care of when you go.
Make sure you leave your legacy
So, if you want to make sure that your descendants receive that family piano, or that your favourite charity is gifted their share, making a will is really important. Without it you have no control whatsoever as to how your estate is divided up after you die and – if there are no close living relatives to whom intestacy rules apply – then everything that you’ve worked your life to create may end up in the hands of the state.