Putting off thinking about death is understandable. It is tempting to assume that you will have plenty of time to think about decisions, such as making a will and funeral arrangements, during retirement when we tend to be less busy. But sadly we cannot know when our last day will be and having a will in place brings peace of mind that, as soon as it has been validly signed, you will know your assets will pass to those who you intend, who will act as the executors under your will and who would look after your children.
For people such as married couples, who jointly own assets, some assets such as a house or bank account which are jointly owned, often pass automatically to the survivor.
However, most assets would not pass automatically by this process of survivorship and, in the absence of a will, or if a will is not accurate enough, some or all of the assets of a deceased person’s estate would pass by law under what are known as the intestacy rules.
Ensuring your estate is passed to the right person
The intestacy rules apply a strict formula to the distribution of an estate, based on the closest surviving relatives getting the most and then a filtering down to more remote relatives. Whilst the formula for determining who gets what is a useful one, it can result in assets passing to people who the deceased would not have wished to benefit.
For example, imagine a lady who is in the process of divorcing and who is still legally married to her husband. She has close friends who have been there for her over the years and is an avid supporter of a local charity. This lady dies without a will. Under the intestacy rules, her soon to be ex-husband receives the majority of her estate and her friends and the charity receive nothing. There might also be remote relatives who she had virtually no contact with benefitting, arguably, unfairly.
As well as this, there is also the potential for a deceased person’s estate being liable to more inheritance tax under intestacy. Making a will would have given the individual the opportunity to be advised on life time gifts that would potentially reduce the tax payable by the estate.
Start Thinking ahead
At Fiona Bruce LLP, we encourage people to think about making a will sooner rather than later. Leaving it until another day could mean that those you care most about lose out. Also remember that once you have made a will, you will need to regularly review it to ensure that it continues to meet your needs. If you are interested in making a will and would like to speak to one of our lawyers, we offer a fixed fee service and a free half hour, no obligation meeting to provide initial advice.
If you're in need of legal advice, please get in touch.
This article is for general information only and does not constitute specific advice. You should not rely on the information in this article. Fiona Bruce Solicitors recommends that you seek our specific advice if you wish to rely on the any part of this article. Whilst Fiona Bruce Solicitors makes every effort to ensure that the article is accurate, Fiona Bruce Solicitors excludes all liability for claim, loss, demands or damages of any kind whatsoever (whether such claims, loss, demands or damages were foreseeable, known or otherwise) arising out of or in connection with the use of this article or any other information contained on this website. Any information provided only applies to England and Wales.