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Not made a Will yet? Top 5 dangerous assumptions!

If you die without a Will (legal term 'intestate'), you gamble over who will be in charge of looking after your affairs (money, property, etc) after your death and who will get what (legal term 'beneficiaries')? This usually causes heartache, arguments, and unnecessary legal expenses. In some cases this might mean the Government collects the lot.

Never make assumptions, they're usually wrong. Plan for tomorrow and make a Will today.

1. I don't need a Will as I'm not worth that much...

Wrong! Anyone who has any assets, money or property (legal term, your 'estate') in their own name, such as bank accounts, car, flat / house, furniture, life insurance, and death-in-service benefits (with work), etc should have a Will. The Will states who looks after this if you die and who will receive the benefit.

2. My Wife or Husband will get everything...

Wrong! Your Wife or Husband will not necessarily get everything. When you die without a Will the government has specific legal rules over who gets what - Intestacy Rules. These rules are inflexible and state that the spouse will get the first £450,000, and the rest is shared with the close family of the deceased, and not both families. The same rules apply to same sex Civil Partnerships.

Where there are children, the spouse will only get £250,000 outright, and then the remainder is shared with the children, which is held in a trust until the children are 18. This means the spouse cannot get access to the money personally to pay the mortgage, etc.

3. My partner will get everything... i.e. unmarried

Wrong! Under UK law and where there is no Will, a partner has no automatic right to any assets and property of their partner, even though they may have been in a relationship and living with each other for decades. Intestacy rules apply and the beneficiaries are close relatives instead. In some cases a partner can be disinherited by children, siblings, or even an uncle and aunt unless you have made adequate provision for them in a Will.

The only way a surviving partner can benefit when there is no Will is to make a claim for 'reasonable financial provision' under the 1975 Inheritance Act. Such claims are complicated, uncertain and expensive.

4. My children will be ok, even if we both die...

Only partly right! If you die after your Wife/Husband, then your children will inherit your estate equally, BUT they will get all the money, assets, property, etc at age 18 which may be too young to receive such monies. They could still be studying or starting careers, or be in difficult relationships. It is better to delay the age to, say 23/25 years which is allowed for in a proper modern Trust (included in glossLegal Wills) with the right adults (Trustees) looking after the money until then. All the money etc will still be available for housing, welfare, medical and schooling.

If there is no Will, then no Guardians will be appointed to act as 'parent' for your children until they're 18. Close relatives will probably be appointed to 'bring up' your children and will be in charge of your assets until they reach 18. This could well be not what you'd have wanted...

5. I'm not married, I don't have children - my brothers and sisters will get everything...

Wrong! Everything you own goes to the surviving parent(s) which may add to their Inheritance Tax bill as you are passing money, assets, property, etc 'up a generation'. When you die without a Will the government has specific rules over who gets what - Intestacy Rules. These rules are inflexible and state that in this situation your parent(s) get it all.

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Disclaimer: The information provided in this site is not legal advice, but general information on legal issues commonly encountered. GlossLegal is not a law firm and is not a substitute for a solicitor or law firm. GlossLegal cannot provide legal advice. Please note that your access to and use of the GlossLegal website is subject to additional terms and conditions. GlossLegal is the trading name of Enterprisexchange Limited registered in England, United Kingdom under Company Number 3803556.