You may think you only need to write up a Will if you own a property or possessions you consider to be of value, but your Will covers much more than what happens to your belongings in the event of your death. A Will can cover everything from child care arrangements and pet care, all the way up to the handling of your bank account/s and digital assets (such as your social media accounts). We here at Jackson Barrett and Gass recommend that you make a Will no matter what stage of life that you are at, but what happens if you don’t make a Will?

You may think you only need to write up a Will if you own a property or possessions you consider to be of value, but your Will covers much more than what happens to your belongings in the event of your death. A Will can cover everything from child care arrangements and pet care, all the way up to the handling of your bank account/s and digital assets (such as your social media accounts). We here at Jackson Barrett and Gass recommend that you make a Will no matter what stage of life that you are at, but what happens if you don’t make a Will?

When a person dies without leaving a valid Will their Estate must be shared out according to a set of rules known as the Rules of Intestacy. Only married or civil partners, and a few other blood relatives, can inherit under the Rules of Intestacy. The Rules of Intestacy are as follows…

If you are not married or in a civil partnership but you DO have children, grandchildren, or great grandchildren:

Your children will inherit the entire estate in equal amounts. Adopted children (including step-children who have been adopted by step-parents) also have the right to inherit under the Rules of Intestacy. Children who inherit under the Rules of Intestacy will only receive the inherited Estate when they turn 18 unless they marry or enter into a civil partnership (which can only happen with the permission of a guardian) under this age.

If you are married or in a civil partnership and your Estate is worth less than £250,000, regardless of whether or not you have children:

Your spouse/civil partner will inherit the entire Estate, plus interest, and personal goods from the date of your death; regardless of whether or not you have living children.

If you are married or in a civil partnership and your Estate is worth more than £250,000 but you have NO children, grandchildren, or great grandchildren:

Again, your spouse/civil partner will inherit the entire Estate, plus interest, and personal goods from the date of your death.

If you are married or in a civil partnership, your Estate is worth more than £250,000, and you DO have children, grandchildren, or great grandchildren:

Your partner will inherit the first £250,000 plus half of the remaining Estate, along with all of your personal property. The children will then inherit, in equal shares, the remaining half of the value of the estate.

You are not married (or in a civil partnership) and have NO children:

Your surviving relatives will inherit in the following order:

1. Parents

2. Brothers or sisters, nieces and nephews

3. Half-brother or sisters, or their children

4. Grandparents

5. Uncles or aunts, or their children

6. If you have no surviving relatives then everything will go to the Crown (continued below)

If you have no surviving relatives:

If there are no surviving relatives who can inherit under the Rules of Intestacy, the Estate passes to the Crown. This is known as Bona Vacantia. The Treasury Solicitor is then responsible for dealing with the Estate.

Who cannot inherit under the Rules of Intestacy:

· Unmarried partners (sometimes wrongly called ‘common-law’ partners)

· Stepchildren (unless formally adopted)

· Same-sex partners not in a civil partnership

· Relations by marriage (i.e. brother/sister in-law)

· Close friends

· Carers

Why Make a Will?

A Will makes it much easier for your family to accept who inherits what after you die, as this will be in line with your wishes. Without a Will the process of dividing your Estate can be much more time consuming and stressful, and it could cause conflicts between family members. In addition, if you have friends or extended family that you wish to leave any of your Estate to then this will need to be outlined in your Will.

Even if your wishes for your Estate just happen to follow the Rules of Intestacy, a Will may help reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax that might be payable on the value of the property and money you leave behind which could help your partner, children, or surviving relatives avoid any financial troubles this could incur.

In the event of your passing, your Personal Representatives are the people who will be in charge of carrying out the instructions/wishes, planning your funeral, and making decisions about your estate. If you make a will you can appoint anybody to carry out the role of Personal Representative. Without a will this role is offered to all whom inherit your estate and this can be impractical.

If you’re thinking about writing your Will and want to make sure it is completely valid and indisputable in the eyes of the law, then we recommend using a Solicitor service in order to do this. Contact us for will writing services, information, and assistance.