‘Latest research’ (that well known phrase) suggests that at least one third of British adults do not have a will. Whilst our inevitable mortality is something many care not to think about, there are other reasons, often based on an incorrect understanding of the law that people have for putting off setting down their wishes for the disposal of their possessions and assets after their death.
- It will all go to my spouse. ‘Spouse’ has recently come to include civil partner. This is only true of personal possessions and the first £250,000 of assets. Depending on how the marital home is owned, this may also pass to the spouse. Half of the rest goes to children. If there are no children the spouse receives the whole of the estate. There are many possible scenarios involved such as a spouse or children having died before you, children from different relationships.
- ‘I’ve got that man/woman out of my life’…actually, no. The CDs and pets may have been divided up but your existing will is still valid, so that swine may still inherit unless you make a new one
- ‘Wedded bliss’. Hmmm, bizarrely a will is revoked on marriage so that a new spouse can be left wanting in the event of sudden demise of a partner, possibly wondering why uncle Mike from Stratford has suddenly taken an interest in the value of the shares and savings.
- ‘English law prevails’ Whilst our legal system is respected around the world and many commercial contracts are written subject to the jurisdiction of English law, it is advisable that your bijou apartment in Tuscany is disposed of according to Italian law, for example. Many people will have relatives in countries with similar legal systems to our own, such as Australia or Canada for example, but it is still advisable to have a will in that jurisdiction to cover assets there, for speed and ease of dealing with matters if nothing else.
- ‘Her indoors will get everything anyway’. There is nothing common about a common law partner, in fact in law it does not exist. If they really are the love of your life they need to be recognised in a will or they risk getting nothing and thinking rather less fondly of you after you’ve gone.
- ‘The kids will sort it all’. You may be lucky in that all concerned get along just fine, there are no interfering in laws and everyone is capable of dealing with matters just as you would have wished, subject to the intestacy laws, and following taxes that may have been avoided and/or mitigated had a will been made. Then again, even if this was the case and there are no conflicting interpretations of which cats home you wanted your money to go to, matters would have been considerably simpler had they been properly written down.
- ‘Everyone knows what I want to happen’. A slightly different version. Do they ? Who are ‘they’ ? What makes you think they know ? Do they want the cost of a court case to decide things ?
- ‘I’ve nothing worth leaving’ . 30 years ago you might not have done but your house has quadrupled in value, those privatisation shares stuck in the drawer, that 1980s endowment policy, that surprise inheritance… Things may also have a sentimental value such as your granddad’s medals.
- ‘It’ll cost a fortune’ It’ll cost a lot less than you think.
- Or you could ignore the above and allow 2 solicitors’ firms make a fortune using up the wealth from litigation involving a disputed estate…, actually, please disregard the above 9 points.
The above article is believed to be correct at the time it was written and should not be relied upon for legal advice.
For all your legal requirements contact Ian Clay at Walker & Co Solicitors on 01709 817112 or firstname.lastname@example.org