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The importance of making a Will

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

Under English law, if a person dies without a Will they are said to have died ‘intestate’.

This means that an Estate will be shared out according to a legal default, rather than a persons own expressed wishes.

This could lead to an unintended or disliked family member inheriting from the Estate or if you have remarried and you have children from a previous marriage you could unknowingly disinherit your own children and leave them with nothing, as your new spouse would be entitled to inherit instead.

If you are cohabiting and have not made a Will you could also unintentionally disinherit your Partner, as they would not have an automatic right to inherit, no matter the length of time you have been together.

At present, if you die without a Will and are married, your spouse or civil partner inherits all of the assets (including property), up to a value of £270,000, and all the personal possessions, regardless of their value.

Your spouse or civil partner will then inherit half of the remainder of your Estate and the remaining half will be distributed between any of your children equally. If there are no children then your spouse or civil partner gets the entire Estate.

If you die without a Will and you do not have a spouse or children then the Estate will pass to surviving relatives in a legally specified order; this could include but not be limited to, parents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, cousins, half blood relatives and possibly long lost relatives that you have never met!

In essence, in order for your Estate will be distributed in accordance with your wishes, you should make a Will. You can then make financial provisions for your children and other family members that you may wish to benefit from your Estate – this could of course include stepchildren and partners who would not legally benefit under the rules of intestacy.

You may wish to appoint a legal guardian for any minor children; if you do not have a Will stipulating your wishes, then it will be up to the Court to decide who will be responsible for your children and this may be someone that you would not have chosen yourself.

You may be able to create a Trust in your Will in order to safeguard the interests of any vulnerable family members or you may simply wish to leave a legacy or a proportion of your Estate to charity. It is clearly becoming more important than ever to make a Will, regardless of how much money you have, to ensure those you wish to benefit from your estate actually do.

If you would like to discuss making a Will or would like further advice on this or any other matter, please contact our team today.