What can happen if you don’t make a will
If you die without a will your remaining assets will be divided according to the laws of intestacy, which may not necessarily be in accordance with your wishes.
If you die without a will and an estate plan then there are strict intestacy laws which govern how your estate would be divided - instead of being distributed in accordance with your own wishes. If you have young children they may receive their entire inheritance when they are aged only 18 which may be an age you yourself feel is too young.
The following is one such case that was dealt with by Pearson Solicitors’ Wills, Trusts and Probate team (based at the central Oldham office) of a person who died without a will.
Case Study: when a person didn't leave a will*
Mrs. Potter died suddenly in 2012, aged 50, without leaving a will. She was survived by her husband and their two children aged 15 and 13.
Mr. and Mrs. Potter owned their home jointly. Mrs. Potter also owned a cottage valued at £150,000 and had investments worth £300,000. Their home passed to Mr. Potter as Mr. and Mrs. Potter held it jointly.
However, under the intestacy rules, Mr. Potter was only entitled to the first £250,000 of Mrs. Potter’s estate, her personal belongings and a life interest (i.e. a right to receive the income) in one half (£100,000) of the total residuary estate of £200,000.
The children are entitled to the remaining £100,000 when they reach 18 years old.
As and when Mr. Potter subsequently dies they would receive the other £100,000 – this is unlikely to have grown much in value if the income generated has been paid over to Mr. Potter for his lifetime. As Mr. Potter is only entitled to receive the interest on that £100,000 during his life he will not be able to spend any of that capital money.
Mr. Potter was also concerned at how the children, at the age of 18, might choose to spend their legacy when they receive it.
*Identities have been changed.
Give your estate away in stages
Fortunately, this situation can be avoided. With a professionally written will you can control in detail who will inherit your property after your death and, if you have children, you may specify at what age your children can inherit. You would be able to ensure that your children could benefit from your estate at the age of 18 but can prepare your will in such a way that they would not be able spend all of their inheritance, with the moneys being controlled by your trustees or executors.
Numerous Pearson Solicitors clients have opted to add a provision in their will stipulating that their estate be given away in stages over a period of time or even increasing the age of entitlement to 21 or 25 years.
Contact us to make a will
Please telephone a solicitor in Pearson Solicitors’ Wills, Trusts and Probate department on 0161 785 3500 for advice about making or updating your will or email email@example.com.
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Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.
This blog was posted some time ago and its contents may now be out of date. For the latest legal position relating to these issues, get in touch with the author - or make an enquiry now.