Category : Law

What Happens To Your Money If You Die Without A Will?

In the United Kingdom, if a person dies without leaving a will they are deemed to be an intestate person.

This means that their assets will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy — a set of legal rules that determines who is eligible for a share of a deceased person’s estate.

If the rules of intestacy are applied, only close relatives and married or civil partners will be able to inherit a share of the estate.

That means any close friends or distant relatives will receive nothing.

This can be a very poor outcome in situations where the deceased person wanted some of their assets to be given to friends or other relatives.

This guide will explain how the rules of intestacy are typically applied to an estate and who will be eligible for a share of an inheritance.

Rules for married and civil partners

Married and civil partners are allowed to inherit if they are currently in a relationship with the person who has died.

Divorcees and people who have officially ended a civil relationship are not eligible to receive an inheritance under the rules of intestacy.

If a separation has occurred but it was informal, an inheritance can still be received.

It’s important to note that cohabiting partners who are not in a civil relationship and are not married will not be eligible for an inheritance.

How much will married or civil partners receive?

Under the rules of intestacy, if the value of the estate is over £250,000 and there are children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren involved, the partner of an intestate person will receive:

  •   All personal property and belongings of the person who died
  •   The first £250,000 of the estate
  •   Half of the remaining estate

If there are no children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren involved, the partner will receive all personal property and belongings of the person who died and their entire estate.

Dealing with jointly owned property

In many cases, a couple will jointly own a home.

There are two ways of co-owning a home:

Beneficial joint tenancies

The property belongs to you and the other owner or owners jointly.

Tenancies in common

A shared tenancy in which each party has a distinct, separately transferable interest.

If a couple had a beneficial joint tenancy, the surviving partner will inherit the deceased partner’s share of the property.

If a couple has a tenancy in common, the transfer of ownership of the remainder of the property is not automatic and other rules apply.

Learn more about jointly owned property.

When it comes to jointly owned bank accounts, the surviving partner will receive all of the money in the account.

One important thing to note — any property or money in joint bank accounts that is received by the surviving partner is not valued for intestacy rules.

That means property and money in joint bank accounts does not contribute to the £250,000 threshold mentioned earlier.

What about children?

Children will always inherit if the deceased person doesn’t have a married or civil partner.

If there is no surviving partner, the children will equally share the inheritance.

If there is a surviving partner, children will only inherit if the estate is worth more than £250,000.

Once the £250,000 threshold has been surpassed, the children will share one half of the estate.

For example, if there is a surviving partner and the estate is worth £500,000, the first £250,000 will go to the partner.

The remaining £250,000 will be split in two, with the partner receiving £125,000 and the children receiving £125,000.

All children share equally from the estate, even if they are from different marriages.

Children will receive their inheritance once they reach 18 years of age or when they marry or enter into a civil partnership (whichever occurs first).

What about grandchildren and great-grandchildren?

Grandchildren and great-grandchildren will only inherit if:

  • Their parent or grandparent died before the intestate person
  • Their parent dies before the age of 18 and does not enter into a marriage or civil relationship

If eligible for a share of the estate, grandchildren and great-children will only inherit what their parent or grandparent would have been eligible to receive.

What about other relatives?

It is possible for other relatives including parents, siblings, nieces and nephews to inherit under the rules of intestacy.

This may occur if an intestate person does not have a surviving partner, has no children, has no grandchildren, and has no great grandchildren.

In the case of nieces and nephews, they will only be eligible for an inheritance if their parents are deceased.

It is also possible for grandparents, uncles, aunts, half-uncles, and half-aunts to inherit.

However, they wail only be eligible after surviving partners, children, grandchildren, great grand-children, parents, siblings, nephews and nieces have been considered.

Who will never inherit under the rules of intestacy

In no circumstances will the following people inherit under the rules of intestacy:

  •   Unmarried partners no in a civil partnership
  •   Lesbian or gay partners not in a civil partnership
  •   Close friends
  •   Relations by marriage
  •   Carers

They may have a claim under the Family Provision Act but who wants to leave a litigation battle for their family?

What if there are no surviving relatives?

If the intestate person does not have any relatives, their estate will be given to The Crown under a process called bona vacantia.

Changing how your estate is distributed

It’s possible to rearrange the way that an estate is distributed even if there is no will.

A deed of family arrangement or variation can be lodged within 2 years of the intestate person’s death.

This will change the amounts that each eligible person receives from the estate.

For this arrangement to be valid, all of the people who would inherit must agree to the changes.

Avoiding the rules of intestacy

If you believe the rules of intestacy are not reasonable or you wish to give an inheritance to individuals not included within these rules, you must create a will.

The safest way to write a will is to work with a solicitor or will-writing firm.

Thank you for reading What Happens To Your Money If You Die Without A Will?

If you are interested in learning more about the importance of making a will, contact us today.

The Devastating Consequences Of Not Writing A Will Before You Die

Most people are aware of how important it is to have a last will and testament.

However, a surprisingly high number of people in the UK still don’t have one.

A 2016 survey found that almost 60% of people in the UK did not have a written will and would be relying on the UK government’s intestacy rules to distribute their assets.

Relying on the government to distribute your assets is clearly a mistake, as they will have no understanding of your final wishes.

This can lead to some devastating consequences that affect your legacy and cause conflict between your loved ones.

What are intestacy rules?

If a person dies without leaving a will, the government uses a set of rules to determine where their assets go, called the “rules of intestacy”.

Only married partners, civil partners, and certain family members can inherit assets under these rules.

The rules of intestacy will also be applied if your will is not considered valid.

Married and civil partners must still be in a relationship with the deceased at the time of death to inherit any assets.

Cohabiting partners (common-law partners) cannot inherit assets under intestacy rules.

Other people who will never inherit under intestacy rules include:

  • Unmarried partners
  • Lesbian or gay partners not in a civil partnership
  • Relations by marriage
  • Close friends
  • Carers

Even if these individuals are very close to the deceased, they will still receive nothing under the rules of intestacy.

If there are no surviving relatives who can inherit under the rules of intestacy, the estate will be given to the Crown under a rule called bona vacantia.

You can visit this link to learn more about the rules of intestacy.

The negative consequences of not having a will

There are many different negative consequences that may occur if you do not have a will and intestacy rules are applied to your estate, including:

Potential conflict between family members

If you don’t have a will in place, the government will decide which family members are eligible for a share of your assets.

This can lead to some of your relatives not receiving a share of your assets, even if they were very close to you and helped you financially during your life.

There may also be squabbling about who should receive specific items that are particularly valuable or which have emotional significance for certain members of the family.

These squabbles are exacerbated by the grief that everyone is feeling and may lead to lifelong grudges between family members.

Your partner could lose their home

If you haven’t married your partner or entered into a civil partnership, they will not be eligible for a share of your estate.

This is the case even if they have been sharing a home with your partner.

Your estate will go directly to your children or to another relative in the family — forcing your partner to leave the comfort of the home they have enjoyed for many years.

You may lose control of who looks after your children

Writing a will isn’t just about deciding where your assets go.

It can also be used to nominate a guardian who will look after your children in the event of your death.

You can also outline any financial arrangements that should be in place to help the guardian raise your children.

If you fail to make these arrangements, your children may end up living with an unpleasant family member or, in the worst case scenario, being placed in foster care.

There might also be lengthy court cases involved, where relatives fight over the custody of your children.

Excessive legal costs for beneficiaries

If there is no will in place to determine which family members receives certain assets, some family members may have to hire a lawyer to obtain what they feel is an equitable share.

Because the laws of intestacy are so complex, this can often result in lengthy legal proceedings.

This is not only costly, but carries an emotional toll for your family.

Your children may not receive their fair share

If your surviving partner is not good with money, they may waste your estate on frivolous purchases or bad investment decisions.

This could result in your children struggling financially in the years to come.

If you have a will, you can allocate funds to your children to ensure their financial well-being.

Loved ones may not know your preferred funeral arrangements

Another excellent use for a last will and testament is to outline your preferred funeral arrangements.

This helps your family understand if you should be buried or cremated, and what should be done with your remains.

Having these details in writing can help to prevent any arguments between family members.

Beneficiaries may pay more tax than necessary

Writing a last will and testament allows you to distribute your assets in a way that minimises any potential tax burden associated with inheritance.

If you do not have a will, recipients may simply receive lump sums, assets, or businesses that unnecessarily increase their tax burden.

Your legacy could be damaged or destroyed

Having a will allows you to make special arrangements for assets that are a part of your legacy.

Your legacy may include a highly successful business that the local community relies upon or a unique building that is highly valuable.

With a will, you can make special arrangements for these items, so your legacy continues.

Without a will, you won’t have an executor that you trust

You can also use your will to appoint an executor, who will oversee the equitable distribution of assets.

They will deal with the logistics of asset distribution and may be asked to make important decisions about how to handle certain assets.

Having a trusted person in this role helps you ensure the entire process runs smoothly.

Thanks for reading The Devastating Consequences Of Not Writing A Will Before You Die.

If you are interested in learning more about the importance of making a will, contact us today.

A Checklist For Writing A Will

When you’re putting together your own will, there are a number of things that you will need to consider and include to ensure that it is legally sound and also works in the way that you want it to.

A will is an important document about your estate, so you need to be sure that you don’t leave any stone unturned and are thorough with the information that you provide.

Read on for a checklist of the things that you will need to include in your will.

Your personal information

Wills are individual to each person, so you’ll need to fill in details about yourself or provide these to whoever you have employed to write your will.

You will need to include your name, date of birth, current address, relationship status and names and dates of birth of any children you have.

Your estate

Before you write your will, you need to sit down and consider what you have that can be considered as a valuable asset.

This could include property, bank accounts, stocks and shares, vehicles, foreign assets and anything else of value such as jewellery.

Assets can be in your sole name or may be joint with a spouse or other relative, and you will also need to think about what debts and liabilities you have such as a mortgage or outstanding loans.

All of this information will help to determine the net value of your Estate.

Your beneficiaries

Once you’ve determined what your estate comprises of, you’ll need to decide who you want to receive it once you die.

There are a number of different ways that you can do this, so you’ll need to consider what works best for you.

You may choose to leave everything to one person, such as a spouse. However, you should also decide who should inherit your Estate if your main beneficiary dies before you.

Your will could therefore stipulate that if your spouse dies before you, your two children will each receive half of your estate.

Your Executors

Your executors are the people that will finalise your affairs once you pass away, so you need to be sure that you choose people that are responsible and trustworthy.

You can choose one person although you can have more, and you can also nominate Replacement Executors in case those you name are unable or unwilling to act.

Writing A Will Is Easier Than You Think – What Are You Waiting For?

Having a will in place is a vital step in assuring that what happens to your possessions and money after your death is your decision.

You can write it yourself and make it legally binding with this simple guide.

Set out your wishes clearly

State who you want to benefit from your will when you pass and in what split.

You may for instance have two children and wish to split your estate 50% to each, but you may also have grandchildren or a partner who should also be part of your beneficiaries.

A will can also be a way to avoid more inheritance tax than is necessary.

Make it legal

If you have a complicated set of wishes then it may be prudent to employ a solicitor to help you with the intricate nature of them.

Leaving anything open to interpretation could be detrimental to your plans being possible in the event of your death.

Any will that you undertake to write yourself needs to be signed in the presence of two witnesses who are both over the age of 18.

Those witnesses can be legal professionals but they cannot be named as beneficiaries in your will.

Keep it safe

The ideal place for your will to be kept is with the solicitor who conducted the writing and/or the legalising of it.

Having it kept in one place means it cannot be tampered with and will be held securely until such time that it is required to be read.

This is vital to the family left behind to be able to locate the document and have it actioned appropriately.

Update any changes

Any updates to your will have to be done in the same way as you legalised it previously.

Official alterations or changes of wishes must be formally witnessed and signed.

There are no limits to the number of codicils (alterations) you wish to make.

Important things to remember

You may not think about it now but sadly many people die at a young age and may have young children of their own.

It’s of huge importance to document your wishes as to who will raise your children in the instance of your death.

Despite it not being something many of us want to really think about yet, writing a will shouldn’t be a daunting prospect but a crucial legal step to take at any age.

What To Think About Before You Write Your Will

Writing a will is no easy task and there are a lot of things to consider.

For example, is there something specific you want to leave to a loved one and do you plan to give anything to charity?

There’s also the matter of deciding who will have guardianship of your children and how your assets will be divided.

However, writing a will is the only way to ensure that everything is taken care of correctly.

If you are about writing a will, here are the things to think about:

Things to consider before writing a will

Who will have guardianship of your children?

If you have children, it’s important to decide who will have guardianship if you were to die and any whether or not you have any specific requests for their future; this could include where you want them to go to school or where you want them to live.

This information will be stated in the will.

Where will your assets go?

When you die all of your assets will be divided up in the way you want them to; this includes properties, finances, cars and other possessions.

Therefore, it’s important to think about where they will go and who will have them.

Listing all of your assets and clearly stating your plans is a good way to do this.

Do you want to give to charity?

Upon their death, a lot of people want to give to charity and this is something that should be thought about before you write your will.

Consider if there are any specific organisations you would like to make a donation or bequest to.

Do you have specific funeral requests?

A lot of people choose to include their funeral plans in their will and this is something worth doing, especially if you have a very specific plan.

Including funeral plans is a good way to make sure you receive the send off you want.

Who will be the executor?

The executor of your will is the person who will carry out your wishes, as outlined in the will.

So, it’s important to carefully consider who you want to appoint.

The executor should be someone responsible, trustworthy and organised.

Though there is a lot to think about before writing a will, it’s an important task.

Writing a will is the only way to guarantee your assets and finances are divided up in the way you want and that all of your requests are adhered to.

Without a will there’s a great deal of uncertainty.

The Risks Of Not Writing A Will

A lot of people forget to write a will and some others simply think there’s no need, but this brings with it a number of risks.

Not writing a will can cause a lot of problems and it may result in your possessions being divided up in a way you wouldn’t have wanted.

Plus, it can cause a lot of avoidable stress and confusion for friends and family.

That is why it’s always best to have a will in place.

Why should you write a will?

There are a number of reasons why you should write a will, though many individuals still fail to do so – assuming that they either don’t need to do so or don’t have the time.

However, writing a will has a number of benefits and offers many guarantees for after you are gone.

Having a will in place makes it a lot easier for family and friends to organise your finances, belongings and estate.

Without a will, this process is often time consuming and stressful. Plus, it can lead to a lot of uncertainty and confusion.

Without a will, everything you own will be shared equally in the way that the law suggests.

Though this may be ideal for some people, most individuals find that this goes against their wishes.

In short, writing a will makes sure that everything you own goes to the people you want it to.

If you have someone who depends on you financially, whether that be a child or spouse, writing a will becomes especially important.

Having a will in place will ensure they are taken care of financially after you have passed away.

Not only does this benefit them, but you can rest assured that they will be taken care of in the event of anything happening to you.

A will is the best way to make sure your money, property and belongings go to the right people.

It offers you the chance to specifically state who gets what.

If you want to leave something to someone outside of your immediate family, it needs to be stated in a will.

Everything you own is shared amongst immediate family members after you die and if you want anyone else included, you must state it in a will.

Writing a will can help to reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax and other fees that are payable on any property or money you have.

This can help loved ones to keep as much as possible.

As you can see, there are a number of risks that come with not writing a will.

Therefore, it’s always in your own and your loved one’s best interests to have one in place.

Writing a will is the very best way to make sure everything is taken care of after you die.

The Top Reasons To Write A Will

Writing a will is something that often gets overlooked or put off for a long time.

However, it is important to have a plan set in place for when you pass away in order to ensure that your belongings are dealt with accordingly and your loved ones are taken care of.

Whether you own a massive estate or you simply want to ensure that your savings or pension goes towards covering costs that your family will incur, having a will is vital.

Here are some of the reasons why you should write a will.

Keep your possessions in the family

As it stands, the current ruling on unclaimed possessions or estate that hasn’t been specifically appointed to someone states that it can be sold off or claimed by the government.

This means that if you fail to write a will, your family could stand to lose out on the possessions or inheritance you leave behind.

This has happened on multiple occasions so it’s important that you’re prepared.

Save any arguments

Losing a loved one is a very difficult ordeal for any family and sometimes the grief can cause arguments to arise regarding the distribution of your estate.

If you fail to write a will, it may lead to arguments and divides within the family.

To help make sure this doesn’t happen, it’s vital that you clearly state who gets what and where all of your assets will go after you have passed away.

Look after your kids

Writing a will is not only about dishing out your savings or deciding who will get your possessions after you pass away.

It is also how you can ensure your children are looked after and more importantly, who will be looking after them when you’re gone.

In the unfortunate event of an accident, it’s important that you have laid out clear instructions regarding your children’s care otherwise they may end up in the care system.

Save money

Current legislation regarding inheritance tax means that you may be taxed excessive amounts if you have not taken measures to avoid it.

By seeking professional advice, you can craft an effective will that takes advantage of avoidable taxes and fees in order to maximise the amount your family will be entitled to.

Help with funeral costs

Planning and organising a funeral can be a very stressful and expensive ordeal which is only made worse by the grief of losing a loved one.

In order to make sure that your loved ones are able to cover the costs, it’s important that you lay out a will so your savings or life insurance can help out financially.

Writing A Will – What Are Your Options?

Planning for your death isn’t necessarily something at the forefront of your mind when you’re young; in fact it’s not a subject many of us want to think about at all.

What happens to your estate after you die though is a matter of great seriousness.

Failing to write a document which will convey your final wishes can lead to problems for the loved ones you leave behind.

When it comes to planning your will and executing a legacy, you have three main options.

Here are the basics of each one.

1) Use a solicitor

This is the most common and legally binding way to secure what happens to you and your estate following your death.

Most high street solicitors will offer this service and there will be a set charge for the legally trained specialist to meet with you, discuss your wishes, advise on what is reasonable and what may be left open to any challenge should anyone contest your will after your death.

The will can be then held with your legal representative to be called upon once the document is required to administer your estate and for your wishes to be read to your family.

Copies of your will can be requested if you wish to give one to your family in advance.

This is especially important if you have specific request pertaining to how you wish to be buried or how you wish a funeral or celebration of your life to take place.

2) Will writing services

Carry out a quick search online and you can find dozens of will writing services to choose from, each offering their help at what will often be cheaper prices than a solicitor.

On the face of it, this could seem like a better offer but it’s worth doing a little bit of research into how legally binding these types of documents are.

Any issues arising after your death can be dealt with more easily should a will be enforceable by a court of law.

If you mistakenly use a service that wasn’t what you believed it to be, there could be ongoing problems following your death.

3) Do it yourself

There is of course the choice of writing up a document yourself that you can keep in a safe place to be opened in the event of your death.

This would typically be held on to and read out by your close family who would then be entrusted to carry out your final wishes.

This option comes with a risk as your requests are not legally binding and therefore can be left open to interpretation.

Even if you leave the clearest of instructions, others could easily have different ideas.

The implication is that they might choose to disregard your wishes, in favour of their own preferences.

If you are confident that your wishes will be followed, this could be a viable option when budgets are tight.

What Happens If You Do Not Make A Will?

No one likes to think about dying or leaving their loved ones behind but unfortunately it’s something that is inevitable, so it’s important to make sure you’re prepared.

There’s no amount of preparation that can help you deal with the loss of a loved one but making a will can at least ease many of the stresses that come with organising post-mortem logistics.

Leaving a will can reduce any possible arguments or stress regarding things such as your funeral plans and the inheritance of your estate.

By setting out a specific set of instructions and final requests you can ensure that your desires will be met after you pass away.

There are a series of problems that can arise if you fail to lay out a will.


When you pass away without a legal will it’s known as intestacy.

What this means is that anything in your estate, i.e. money, property, belongings, shares, will be divided and shared in accordance with the law.

This means that your belongings may end up with someone you never intended them to be with.

The specific laws regarding the distribution of your estate differs for each country in the UK.

Common rules

Your partner will not be entitled to anything if you are not in a legally binding marriage or civil partnership.

If you are married when you die then most of your things will be given to your partner, even if you’re separated.

This means that your children could receive nothing.

Inheritance tax is often higher if you have not set out a will.

If the state cannot find a living relative close enough to you then all of your belongings will be claimed by the Government or the Crown.

If you have joint ownership of anything, it will pass on to the surviving partner unless stated otherwise in a will.

Who will inherit?

Dividing up your estate can be a very unpredictable and volatile process if you haven’t laid out a will.

The exact rules dictating exactly who will inherit your things will differ depending on your specific circumstances.

To get an idea of who would get what, there is a calculator on the official website that will help you work it out.

The Importance Of Making A Will

Making a will is something that most of us don’t like to think about as nobody wants to consider that they won’t be around forever.

However, it is extremely important to make a will and failing to do so could cause problems for loved ones in the future.

After all, you’ll want to ensure your estate is split between those of your choosing and that your funeral wishes are followed.

Why should you make a will?

There are a lot of different reasons why a person should make a will and not all of them will apply to everybody.

However, each and every one of us has things that need to be taken care of when we die and a will is the legal document that sets out how this will be done.

Here are some of the most important reasons why you should always make a will:

If you have children or anyone who depends on you financially a will ensures they are taken care of in the way that you want.

It can be confusing and stressful for family and friends to sort everything out when you die, but a will can make the process a lot easier.

All the important decisions will have already been made by you and loved ones just have to follow your instructions.

If you want to leave something to someone outside of your immediate family this needs to be stated in a will.

The standard law does not divide assets and finances with those outside of the family.

A will allows you to divide everything in the way in which you want.

The law has a standard way of doing this, so if you want to leave more to some than others a will is necessary.

A will can help to reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax payable on your estate after you die.

If you have any assets that you want passed down to future generations, this must be put into the will.

It offers reassurance that your assets will be kept in the family.

If you have a preferred method of burial or cremation this can be outlined in the will, giving you reassurance that you’ll have the type of funeral you want.

When making a will it is important to ensure it is legally binding, extremely clear and covers everything it needs to.

Failing to include something in a will could result in things being done differently to how you’d like.