‘It is okay not having a will, as long as you know what will happen without one’

What happens if you die without making a will?

Simply put, the Government will decide what happens to your property, possessions and any money for you. Dying without a will, known as dying intestate, means that the rules of intestacy must be followed to distribute your estate, and it maybe the case that those you wanted to inherit, could be left with nothing. We have produced a chart showing the intestacy rules, which is contained within our website.

By way of explanation, if you died intestate, and are married, or have children, or a civil partnership, your partner will receive everything if there are no children. If there are children, your partner will receive part of your estate, and the children will receive whatever is left over. If you are unmarried, or haven’t registered a civil partnership, then your partner will receive nothing.

In that case, one can refer to the rules of intestacy to determine who is the next in line to inherit from your estate.

If there are children, everything is distributed amongst them equally. Followed by parents, siblings, half siblings, grand-parents and finely aunts and uncles. If you have no living relatives at all, then your estate is passed onto the Crown.

It is most likely that this is not how you wish your estate to be distributed. You may not want certain people to receive anything after your death. Or you may wish to leave everything to a certain family member, or even to your friends, or favorite charities. Writing a will is the only way to ensure this can happen. Without a will, you have no control over your estate after death, and neither will anyone else, as the rules of intestacy must be followed. If you are married, and don’t have a particularly complex estate, then having a will may not always be necessary, (although we would always advise a will be made in every circumstance). However, as soon as you introduce children, property, or any foreign business assets, then you will be ill advised to leave everything up to the rules in intestacy.

Some of the most complicated estates we have dealt with, are based on people who did not make a will.

There are many benefits to having a will other than control over how your estate is distributed. If you have quite a large estate, you may need to consider your inheritance tax (IHT) liabilities. The will can be useful to help mitigate the size of your IHT bill, and you can do this by leaving charitable gifts, or gifting lifetime. You should seek professional advice. You should also consider appointing guardians for the minor children in your will, in the event that you are no longer around to care for them, would you want to let the Courts to decide who looks after your children? Or somebody you know and trust? Appointing guardians for them ensures that they are in the care of somebody of your choosing, which any parent would surely prefer.

Rules of Intestacy Flowchart