Do you really need to make a Will? The simple answer to that question is no, you don’t. If you die intestate the courts will make that decision for you. The only problem with that is your property and possessions might not be disbursed as you would have chosen had circumstances been different. So if you really want to protect your family and ensure that they’ll be looked after and cared for when you’re no longer around, then it’s much better if you make a Will and get everything sorted out in advance.
What happens if you fail to make a Will? Well, if you fail to make a Will, there can be all sorts of unintended consequences for your family, particularly in cases where partners aren’t married. If you die and you’re not married to your partner, or haven’t formed a civil partnership, your partner won’t automatically inherit anything from you. What the current law dictates is that everything should in fact go to your nearest blood relative, even if that isn’t your wish. What’s more: in many cases the Crown is actually more likely to inherit from you than your partner.
4 reasons why co-habiting couples need properly drafted Wills
Your former husband, wife or civil partner could inherit the bulk of your estate against your express wishes
You may be separated from your former husband, wife or civil partner, but if you haven’t made a Will stating your express wishes, they could still theoretically inherit the bulk of your estate, rather than your current partner. They could stand to gain your personal possessions and the first £250,000 of your estate plus a life interest in half of anything that is left. This is the case even though you may have wanted this to go to a current partner or your children. These children will only get something if the estate is worth over £250,000. An unmarried partner would get nothing. If you don’t have children then your ex partner would get the first £450,000 and half of anything that’s left.
Your children could inherit the bulk of your estate leaving your co-habiting partner with nothing
If you have children and are not married, or are divorced, the whole estate will be divided between your children. This may seem fair and logical in the circumstances, but can lead to future problemsbetween you children and your partner. They would own any savings and personal belongings, and possibly even your home. Your partner would have no right to anything. It may well be that you actually wanted your children to inherit everything, but a solicitor will be able to advise on better ways of achieving this end. It’s possible to set up a trust so that your partner has some income or the right to stay in the house for the rest of his or her life.
Your partner’s children may not benefit from any inheritance
All biological and adopted children are treated equally by the law, so they all stand to inherit from you whether they come from a previous or current relationship. Your partner’s children are not included in this. If you want them to benefit in some way from the estate, then you need to include them in your Will.
You get to choose who looks after your children after you die
If you have children under the age of 18 and are the sole person with parental responsibility, then you need to appoint a guardian in your Will. If you fail to make a Will and don’t appoint a guardian, then it will be impossible for those remaining to know what your exact wishes for the children were. Making a Will means that your children will be raised by someone of your choosing.
A properly constructed Will guarantees that your loved ones will be looked after and cared for in the way you would want and expect. For further information about Wills and estate management contact Harold Stock & Co solicitors on 01457 835597 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.