Dying Without a Will: What Happens to Your Assets?

Dying Without a Will: What Happens to Your Assets?

When you die without a will this is known as intestacy, and if you live in England there are certain rules that the court will follow to divide up your assets. These rules can be very strict, with the line of inheritance following a pattern, which means lots of legal cases are heard each year due to people dying intestate. If you don’t have a will, it’s important to know what will happen to your assets, and for most people this is a great motivator to have a will written.

Married and unmarried couples

If you have a long-term partner and you die, your partner isn’t legally entitled to anything, and it doesn’t matter how long you’ve been together or whether you’ve co-habited. Those who choose not to marry should look at getting wills made, as there have been cases where all the deceased’s assets have automatically gone to the children, leaving the partner with a legal fight on their hands.

Married couples will usually inherit their deceased spouse’s assets automatically, and under English law your children might not be entitled to anything. If you want your children or grandchildren to inherit anything, this has to be set out in a will to ensure your wishes are followed.

Inheritance tax

With property prices on the rise, more and more people are becoming aware of inheritance tax and how much it could cost their dependents. If you die without a will, more inheritance may become due, whereas if you organise things in advance there are certain trusts which aren’t liable for the tax. Get tax advice before drawing up a will.

Unclaimed estates

For those who die without any obvious descendants, there’s a process to go through where the government will try to track down any surviving relatives. This could include:

  • Grandparents
  • Siblings and half-siblings
  • Aunts and uncles
  • Half-aunts and half-uncles
  • Adopted relatives

If none of these can be found, then the estate goes to the crown, and in 2017 about £8 million worth of assets were given this way. This probate process can be long and complicated, with distant relatives having to stake a claim. If you don’t have any obvious heirs, then it’s important to make a will. You may wish to leave the money to a friend, or even give it to a charity, and with a legal will in place you can be sure your wishes are kept.

Saving your family hassle

Even if your estate is simply going to be divided between children, if you die without a will then the process can be much more complex. It can take longer to get a grant of administration, which allows for distribution of assets, and can mean there’s even more paperwork and hassle to deal with. Therefore, it makes sense to create a will, even a simple one, to save a lot of stress.

Heritage Wills offer an easy will writing service across East Anglia and the Midlands, visiting you at home for your convenience. Simply call 01603 894500 or e-mail admin@heritagewills.co.uk to book an appointment or find out more.