You can’t take it with you – Why you need to make a Will
Advertorial Feature Blog by Hethertons
No matter how much money or wealth you accumulate in your lifetime, whether it’s pennies or billions, one thing is certain, when you go, it stays. Cue the potential for close and distant relatives and some you never knew you had to inherit whatever legacy you left behind.
But what if you had specific individuals in mind to pass your money, property and possessions onto?
Well, there’s only one sure way of guaranteeing your estate goes to the person or people you want it to.
Make a Will
You may think it’s too early in your life to be bothering with or even thinking about Wills, but nobody can ever be sure of what’s around the corner. If you die without a Will in place there can be no guarantee your money, possessions or property will end up in the hands of the people you would hope to benefit from your lifetime’s work.
What if I don’t make a Will?
There’s a specific term for having died without making a Will and that is ‘intestate’, as in ‘the businessman passed away intestate’. Legal measures exist to deal with such situations. These are called the rules of intestacy.
Notwithstanding legal disputes, the rules of intestacy are applied as follows:
Married partners and civil partners – Your spouse or your civil partner is first in line to inherit, receiving your personal possessions and the first £250,000 of your estate (inclusive of property). They will also receive half of whatever remains above the £250,000 threshold. If you have no surviving children, your spouse or your civil partner will inherit everything.
Children– Children will receive half of what remains of your estate over the £250,000 threshold. If you have no surviving spouse or civil partner, your children will receive the entirety of your estate. This will be divided equally between each of your children. It is worth noting that if one of your children is deceased, the estate will be split among the surviving siblings and any children the deceased had. These grandchildren will be entitled to an equal share of the amount their parent would’ve received.
No partner or children– If you have no surviving partner or children, then other close relatives may stand to inherit, such as parents, siblings, nephews, nieces, uncles and aunts, cousins and half-cousins.
No surviving relatives– Where there are no surviving relatives, your estate will pass to the Crown. This is called ‘Bona Vacantia’ – vacant goods – and will see the administration of your estate in the hands of a Treasury Solicitor.
Under the rules of intestacy, unmarried partners or those not in a civil relationship; divorced partners; in-laws; friends and carers are entitled to nothing.
As you can see, intestacy is an entrenched and inflexible process; one that has the potential to see the fruits of your lifetime’s labour end up in the hands of somebody you once brushed shoulders with at a family wedding.
The Jimi Hendrix experience
Highlighting the fact that you’re never too young to make a Will, allow us to present Exhibit A – A certain James Marshall Hendrix, known to the world as ‘Jimi’. Cut short in his prime, the legendary rock guitarist was aged just 27 when, in 1970, he died.
Being unmarried and having made no Will, Hendrix’s father stepped in and inherited the multimillion dollar estate. Fast forward to 2002, ignoring assorted legal wrangles regarding music and image rights along the way, the father died and, having made a Will, left the entirety of the estate to his adopted daughter, cutting out his son, and Jimi’s brother, in the process. This led to a long, drawn out and ugly legal battle, eventually settled 12 years later.
Had Hendrix made a Will before his untimely death, his estate would have passed to whoever he chose, avoiding an unfortunate legacy of messy courtroom battles.
Once again, make a Will
Hendrix may have wanted his fortune to pass to his father and then on to his adopted sister. He may not. What’s important is that, without a Will, he had no say in whoit went to.
So again, it’s never too early to consider those who’ll be left behind when you’re gone.
You may not be able to take it with you but, by making a Will, you can be sure it goes to the people youthink deserve it.
How Can Hethertons help you?
Hethertons Solicitors is a York-based, full service law firm, offering professional legal advice to both individuals and businesses.
For assistance in making a Will, or any guidance relating to probate or intestacy, contactour Wills and Probate department today.