What happens if you die without a Will?

What is Intestacy?

If a person dies without a Will, then there are default rules which determine who inherits. The deceased is described as ‘intestate’ which may be either partially or wholly intestate.

Wholly intestacy – is where there is no Will or the Will has been revoked or is invalid for some reason e.g. because of marriage, lack of capacity or failure to sign properly.

Partially intestate – is where the Will fails to deal with the whole estate and assets pass outside of the Will according to intestacy rules. This could be because a beneficiary has died before the deceased and no reserve beneficiary or that a beneficiary has witnessed the Will, invalidating their legacy. Some reports indicate that as much as 60% of the population do not have a Will. Among those aged 65 and some reports state the figure is approximately 25%. Lots of people fail to make a Will on grounds of expense or because they do not understand the ramifications of not having one. They simply expect everything to transfer to their loved ones. A person who dies without leaving a Will has died intestate; what happens to their estate depends on the set of circumstances.

The order of inheritance is:

  • Spouse/Civil Partner
  • Children, Grandchildren, great-grandchildren and so on (called ‘issue’)
  • Parents
  • Brothers and Sisters or their issue
  • Half-brothers and sisters or their issue
  • Grandparents
  • Aunts and Uncles or their issue
  • Half-aunts/uncles or their issue

The question of who takes what depends on the date of death and the size of the estate and

which relatives are alive at the time of death. This may mean that those you want to benefit

from your estate will not. If you are in a same sex relationship, unmarried or have step-children (that you consider that same as your natural children), all may lose out because you have not put a Will in place. The rules of intestacy generally do not suit most people.

Some potential pitfalls – Tax

If your residual estate is more than £250,000, half of the remainder would be distributed to

children. This could mean that your spouse is left with an adverse tax position or that your children inherit assets they are not prepared for. In this instance, they may need to sell assets to pay a tax they were not expecting.

How easy is it to create a will?

As easy as just letting us know!

We have partnered with Stephensons Will and Probate based in Manchester who are experts in their field. Their specialist Will writing solicitors have extensive experience in preparing Wills to cover all circumstances, with Wills available in both online and traditional formats.

There are many different reasons to make a Will: to save Inheritance Tax, to appoint a guardian for a young child, to sort out funeral arrangements or to set out your intentions if you think family members may not agree.

Whether you have a complex estate well over the Inheritance Tax threshold (currently £325,000) or whether you simply want to make sure certain belongings go to certain people, they can make a Will to suit you.

How much does it cost?

It depends on the complexity of the will and they will ask the following questions when quoting:

We ask the following questions when obtaining a quote:
1. Has your client ever been divorced?
2. Does your client have children by more than 1 partner?
3. Does your client wish to leave specific gifts in their will?
4. Does your client own a property abroad?
5. Does your client own a business?

Level 1 Wills – £294 including VAT
All questions answered NO.

Level 2 Wills – £351.60 including VAT
Any of questions 1-3 answered YES, questions 4-5 answered NO.

Level 3 Wills – £553.20 including VAT
Any of questions 4-5 answered YES.

Level 4 Wills – Price on enquiry
Should, upon further consultation with the client by the solicitor, the Will become more complicated than originally anticipated, a Level 4 Will may be required. Examples may include the use of trusts to plan to minimise the impact of Inheritance Tax. We will send you the revised quote to pass onto your client for approval.