Intestacy means dying without having a will. In such a case, there will be no legal statement from you concerning how you would like your estate to be distributed. In such a situation, what happens is that the Rules of Intestacy come into play to determine how your estate will be distributed. Complications arise in such cases because issues such as applying for letters of administration and inheritance tax become complex. When you die without a will, life becomes complicated for those people who now need to administer your estate.
If you die intestate, you’re also likely to leave an intricate, expensive, and even potentially divisive situation for your loved ones and family members. Even though you may have promised people in your life something to remember you by, a verbal assurance does not hold as much water as something written down on paper. Therefore, failing to make a will ends up causing your loved ones at the mercy of intestacy rules.
A statutory set of rules known as the Rules of Intestacy are enforced if you do intestate in England and Wales. The result is that your estate may be distributed in a way that you would not want it to or even in a way that you may not expect. Currently, the rules provide that your spouse or civil partner will inherit the first ?250,000 of your estate and possessions. After this, your spouse or civil partner will receive half of what remains, even if you have children. A spouse or civil partner will also be granted all joint assets including bank accounts and property which do not constitute part of the estate. The rest is to be shared among all the deceased’s children, whether they are from the current marriage or previous relationships. One’s spouse or civil partner will get all they own if they leave less than ?250,000 or don’t have any children.
When it comes to someone unmarried, the estate is divided amongst the children, or any living parents or grandparents, siblings, half-siblings, or cousins. In extreme cases, your estate may end up going to relatives whom you’ve never met or do not know. The complexity of the rules increases as the complexity of the family who lived behind increases. The rules do not provide for your estate being inherited by stepchildren, carers, friends, charities, or even neighbors who you would have wanted to benefit from your estate.
To protect your estate from the Rules of Intestacy, you need to take a step and get a legally binding will in place before you die. This can be done any time, and remember to make necessary changes to update your will to reflect your new circumstances.