As Financial Planners, many of our discussions with clients involve assisting them in arranging their affairs in a manner that suits their objectives during their lifetime. But we also frequently advise clients on how best to pass their assets to their intended beneficiaries on death.
If you don’t make a Will, you may find that your estate is distributed in a way that might not be in accordance with your wishes. The intestacy rules govern who gets what when someone dies without leaving a valid Will, and these rules are changing from October 1st. The changes are intended to simplify the current rules and provide outcomes that might be more easily understood in today’s society.
So if I die without making a Will, who will receive my assets under these rules?
Married Partner/Civil Partner & Children
Many people erroneously assume that a married person automatically receives the assets of their late partner, but that is not the case now and will still not be the case going forward.
A widow/widower will receive the first £250,000 of the estate and be entitled to half of anything above that amount. The children of the deceased will receive the other half of the remainder of the estate.
So if your assets stand at above £250,000 and you wish for your spouse/civil partner to receive it all, you need to make a Will.
Married Partner/Civil Partner – No Children
For those who haven’t had children, rules granting parents of the deceased, siblings and other more distant relations from benefitting from your estate are being swept away. Your spouse will now receive the entire estate.
Of course if you do wish to leave items to individuals who are not your partner you can still do so by making a Will.
During the consultation phase, many lawyers recommended that changes in societal living arrangements should be recognised and that long standing unmarried partners should be given the same rights as married partners.
However, these recommendations have not been taken on board, and co-habitees will continue to receive nothing from the estate of their partner even if there are children from the relationship. So it remains the case that the only way to ensure that part, or all, of your estate will go to your partner is to marry them, or make a Will.
We always recommend that clients do make a Will and regularly engage with solicitors to ensure it reflects our clients’ wishes. Wills can soon become out of date when family circumstances change and can be invalidated by marriage or divorce so regular reviews are essential. A Will is the only way to ensure your assets pass to those you wish to receive them; it also allows you to build in some appropriate inheritance tax planning.
If you haven’t got a Will or wish to discuss your Will please get in touch with me.