If you have specific wishes in death, make sure you make a Will
If you want your assets to go to the right people when you pass away, then you have no option but to make a Will.
There are perhaps two common misconceptions about what happens to your property and possessions on death, which are:
- Your partner will get everything anyway
- You can simply leave informal instructions with your partner or a close relative, explaining who you want your various assets to go to
It is most certainly not the case that your partner will automatically receive everything on your death. Firstly, if you are not in a marriage or civil partnership, then your partner will not be legally entitled to any of your estate if there is no will. Even if you have lived with your common-law partner for many years, and own the house together on a joint tenancy basis, your partner is not entitled to inherit your share of the house that the two of you have shared for so long. Instead your half-share will pass to your next of kin.
Secondly, even if you are married, your spouse will only receive the first £250,000 of your estate, plus half of any residue, plus any property that you own with them on a joint tenancy basis. The remainder will go to your children, or grandchildren, or great-grandchildren.
Leaving informal instructions as to who should receive your possessions will have no legal weight whatsoever. If you die without making a will (known as dying intestate), then your entire estate will be distributed according to the law, which is likely to mean that any spouse/civil partner will only receive the first £250,000 of your estate, plus half of any residue. If you aren’t married, then your children will be first in line to inherit your estate, in equal shares, regardless of whether this is what you wanted to happen.
If you make a will, then you can make sure that:
- Your unmarried partner can inherit some, or all of, your estate
- Your relatives can inherit possessions they wouldn’t be entitled to if there was no will
- Relatives, friends, organisations and charities who have a special place in your affections, but who would not receive anything if you die intestate, can still be provided for
In summary, if you make a will then you have total control over who will inherit your estate.
There are obvious benefits to making a will, and here at Courmacs Solicitors we have considerable experience of assisting people in drawing up their wills. Why not call us today for a no-obligation initial chat?