Don't leave your assets to chance
A family death can be hard enough to cope with, but when someone passes away without a Will (intestate) dividing the estate can often cause disputes. The Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Bill has changed the intestacy rules to give more power to the remaining spouse and to better reflect modern family life. However it is still no substitute for having a properly drawn up Will in place.
From 1 October 2014, if the deceased has no children, the spouse, or civil partner, will now be entitled to all of the estate and will no longer have to share with the deceased’s parents or siblings. If there are children involved, the estate will be divided with half passing to the spouse and half divided amongst the children.
However, these intestacy rules are still very restrictive and relying on the new intestacy rules is unlikely to fulfil your wishes and could see your assets passing to the wrong people. Nothing will pass to a life partner unless they are a spouse or a registered civil partner. The new rules do not account for children not being capable or mature enough to inherit all of your estate at once. If your spouse inherits all of your assets, they then have the ability to pass them onto his or her own family with nothing going to yours. The rules will not allow you to choose who deals with your estate. They do not allow you to appoint a guardian for your children. Finally, they do not account for you and your spouse dying together.
Having a properly drawn up Will in place is the only way to ensure that your assets are passed to the right people. It will allow you to take full control over the division of your estate; you can specify exactly who receives what. You can leave assets to those who may be unrelated to you, such as friends or charities. It will allow you to set up a trust fund for children who would not be able to cope with receiving a large sum all at once. It will enable you to appoint an estate executor and will give you the opportunity to appoint a guardian to look after your children.
Modern family structures are getting more complex and not making a Will and leaving your assets to chance is unlikely to fulfil your wishes and can leave your loved ones arguing with costly legal bills.