Do not die intestate
Having no will means that your assets, money and possessions may not end up where you intended when you die. New rules on what happens when someone dies without making a will came into force on 1 October 2014.
How are the rules changing?
The changes affect the intestacy rules, which govern how a person’s assets are distributed if they die without a will – which is known as dying ‘intestate’.
Under the existing rules, where someone dies intestate, leaving a spouse or civil partner and direct descendants such as children, and grandchildren, the spouse or partner would take the first £250,000 and personal belongings. They would then have a life interest in one half of the balance, and the children would take the other half of the balance. A life interest means that that the surviving spouse can use the property or receive its income until they die, when the property passes to the children.
Under the new rules, the main beneficiary is the surviving spouse or civil partner who still gets the first £250,000 and personal belongings, but they receive half the balance absolutely. The remainder of the balance goes to the children.
Another change is that where a person dies intestate and leaves a spouse or civil partner but no children, the surviving spouse or partner will take the whole estate.
Making your will should be top of your ‘to do’ list
Whatever your marital status, it’s worth making a will – but if you’re not married and have significant assets, such as property in sole names, then it should be top of your list. It’s also important where there is a second marriage with children from previous relationships.
Making a will is something that people often put off, but it’s not a difficult thing to do and it means that you get the outcome you want. If you have a will but your circumstances have changed through marriage (which normally invalidates an earlier will) or death of a spouse or other life-changing event, it is worth reviewing the content and ensuring it reflects your current wishes.
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