If I do not make a Will, what will happen to my assets – the Intestacy RulesPepperells
Intestacy occurs where a person dies, leaving no valid Will. There is also such a thing as partial intestacy which can occur for example, where all of your named beneficiaries have died or where gifts included in your Will fail for other reasons. Therefore, even if you make a Will and it becomes outdated or is poorly drafted, the rules of intestacy can still be relevant to your Estate. Please make sure that you regularly review your Will and if you are in any doubt, please contact our Private Client team who will be happy to assist.
The basic rules of intestacy dictate that, if you do not have a valid Will, your assets will be inherited by the following person(s), subbing to the next only if, you have no relations in the category above. Those categories or “classes of beneficiaries” are as follows: –
· Where you are married or in a civil partnership and you have no children, your spouse is entitled to your entire estate.
· Where you leave behind a spouse and children, your spouse is entitled to your ‘personal chattels’ (your things, the contents of your house for example) and a statutory legacy (currently £270,000). Anything left over, is then divided equally between the spouse (50%) and the children.
· Where there is no surviving spouse, the following classes of beneficiaries are entitled passing down the list in order should there be none of any such class:
o Your children. Please note, Step-children or foster children will not be included.
o Your parents in equal shares. Please note that, where parents were unmarried when the child who’s Estate is now passing via the rule of intestacy was born and the father (or parent other than the mother) is not named on the birth certificate that parent and their side of the family, may not be included via the rules of intestacy at all.
o Your siblings – being those siblings that you share both parents with only. If a sibling has died before you, leaving children of their own, these children will benefit in their place.
o Your half siblings
o Your grandparents
o Aunts and uncles
o Your cousins
If there are no relatives left, then the Crown will inherit.
You will therefore see that, it is not simply the case that your surviving spouse will automatically receive everything or that your brothers and sisters (whether full or half) will receive your Estate.
It may that your chosen beneficiaries would have been one and the same as those that stand to inherit from you via the Intestacy Rules. However, you should also consider, how much more complicated it becomes for those that are due to inherit to deal with your Estate after your death if you have not left a Will.