A will is vital in ensuring that your estate goes to your rightful heirs, but more than 50% of people in the UK don’t have a will. This means that over 31 million are at risk of dying intestate, which would allow the rules of intestacy to dictate who inherits what when they die.
Without a will, the process of administering and distributing your estate can be complicated and result in distressing outcomes for your loved ones.
In this post, we delve into what intestacy is, why estate planning is important, and how you can avoid dying intestate:
- 1 What Does ‘Dying Intestate’ Mean?
- 2 Problems with Intestacy
- 3 How can Intestacy be Avoided?
- 4 What Should a Will Include?
- 5 How Legacy Wills and Probate Can Help You Avoid Intestacy
What Does ‘Dying Intestate’ Mean?
Without a will, you are said to have died intestate, which means that your estate will be dealt with in accordance to strict inheritance laws known as the ‘rules of intestacy.’
These can vary from country to country, but intestacy in the UK means that your estate will be automatically distributed between your spouse and any of your children. If you have no spouse or children, your possessions will be divided between your parents, grandparents, or other relatives.
Problems with Intestacy
The issue with these rigid intestacy rules is your estate can end up being distributed in a way that would have gone against your wishes and does not take individual circumstances into account. For instance, problems can occur in situations of second marriages or the remarriage of a surviving partner:
If you are married but have children from a previous relationship, your spouse may be at risk of losing out on inheriting anything if you die intestate.
What’s more, dying intestate means that no gifts can be given to wider relatives or charitable organisations, regardless of the size of the estate left. This means that no tax planning provisions are possible. For example, if you leave at least 10% of your estate to charity, the inheritance tax rate for the remainder of your estate drops from 40% to 36%.
For this reason, it is crucial to write a valid will to prevent your loved ones from having to deal with the stress of sorting out your affairs according to the laws of intestacy and to make the most out of their inheritance.
How can Intestacy be Avoided?
The best way to avoid dying intestate is by writing a valid will, as it allows you to plan for your death and ensure that your estate is distributed as you wish. Without a will, you will have no say in how it is administered.
Estate planning also plays a key role in avoiding intestacy by allowing you to ensure that certain loved ones have financial provisions in place after you die. For instance, if you have young children, you may wish to set up a trust fund to secure their future education and care.
Writing a will and planning your estate can be difficult, but it is worth doing so to ensure that your wishes are granted after you die.
What Should a Will Include?
To avoid intestacy, a will should set out the following:
Executors are vital to carrying out your wishes after you die. They are responsible for distributing your estate, following the instructions set out in your will, and finding solutions to any family disputes. Without them, your estate cannot be dealt with in a way that reflects your wishes, so it is a good idea to appoint more than one executor in case one dies before you do or if one renounces probate.
If you have any children under the age of eighteen, you can make provisions for their care in your will by naming who should step in as their legal guardian should you and their other parent die.
In the event of dying intestate, the courts will decide who looks after your children, so it is important to make the decision yourself.
Gifts to charities and other organisations
As already mentioned, you can leave money and assets to charities and non-profit organisations in your will, which allows you to reduce inheritance tax on your estate – something which is impossible if you die intestate.
Specific possessions to named individuals
In general, you can appoint anyone you want as a beneficiary, with no limit to how many you choose. Beneficiaries can be friends, family, acquaintances, or non-profit organisations.
Remember to review your will often and to update it if there are any changes in your circumstances (e.g., remarriage) to ensure that your wishes are accounted for.
How Legacy Wills and Probate Can Help You Avoid Intestacy
Writing a valid will can seem daunting, but using a will writing company or an online will writing service can ensure that you avoid dying intestate.
Legacy Wills and Probate offer will writing services and professional support in all matters relating to wills and intestacy. With our many years of expertise, our team can save you a great deal of time, trouble, and expense.
For more information on how we can help, don’t hesitate to get in touch today. Contact our team on 0333 344 4325 or email us directly at email@example.com.