It is a common misunderstanding that in the event of a married individual dying without a Will, then their widow, widower or surviving civil partner would inherit everything. This is not always the case.
What Happens If You Die Without a Will?
Anyone who dies without a will is said to have died ‘intestate’. The rules as to who receives what are set by law.
Where there are no children, the spouse or civil partner will inherit the entire estate.
However, where there are children involved, the spouse or civil partner will receive all the personal property of the deceased (personal effects, vehicles, etc) and a specified amount payable, known as the statutory legacy. The remaining estate will be divided equally into one half for the spouse and the remaining half between any children.
Increase in Statutory Legacy
The government has confirmed that as of 6th February 2020, the statutory legacy will increase from £250,000 to £270,000. This increase will affect any deceased’s estate where the person dies on or after the 6th February 2020 implementation date. The government increases the statutory legacy amount every five years in line with the consumer price index, despite this change being months late of its original October 2019 due date.
For a deceased’s estate worth £270,000 or less, their entire estate will be passed down to the remaining spouse or civil partner. If the estate is worth more than £270,000, the statutory legacy will be balanced equally – half to the remaining spouse and the other half split between any children.
Provision for Children
Under the rules of intestacy, the inheritance for any minor children would be held upon trust dependent on them reaching the age of 18 years. On their 18th birthday, they will be fully entitled to any inheritance and therefore able to use it as they choose. Often, people feel that this is too young an age to receive any substantial monies. By making a Will you have the option to alter this to an older age at which you may feel your children would be in a better position to make a decision regarding their inheritance.
It is important to ensure that upon your death, your assets will be passed down to those you wish to receive them. The best way to guarantee this is by writing a Will to ensure that those whom you wish to benefit from your estate will do, giving you peace of mind.