Often when we mention to a person the importance of having a valid will in place they will say to us, “that’s a bit morbid” or, “I’m far too young for that”. However we can’t stress enough that it’s vital to have a will in place.
This is due to the fact that without a will to set out your wishes and how you would like your assets and belongings dealt with following your death, then your estate will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy instead.
What this means is that rather than your estate being distributed to those you care most about, or a cause that is important to you, it will instead be distributed according to a specific hierarchy that these rules of intestacy dictate. This hierarchy is applied strictly to every person, no matter what their personal circumstances were and do not take into account a person’s wishes in any form.
A few examples from these rules of intestacy include:
- Where a person is survived by a legal spouse (including where the couple have separated, but not divorced) and there are no children, then the surviving spouse will receive 100% of the estate.
- Where a person has no spouse and no children (for example, a young adult), then the parents of that person are each entitled to half of the estate, regardless of the relationship that existed, or did not exist, between the person and their parents.
The rules of intestacy can also apply partially to an estate, where one or more assets have not been properly dealt with by a will.
As you can see from the above examples the rules of intestacy may not deal with an estate in accordance with a person’s wishes, but this is how the law will treat an estate where a person does not have a valid will in place.