It is never a nice thing to think about what might happen upon your death, but we all have a choice over where our wealth and belongings go. But only if we make a Will.
The dangers of dying without a Will – a situation known as intestacy – are great as you lose control of where your estate ends up. If you have a spouse and direct decedents (children, grandchildren) it flows through them, if not it goes via your parents, or if they are deceased via siblings if you have them. The rules differ slightly between England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The risk is especially acute for people in relationships who aren’t married or in a civil partnership. They will inherit nothing without a Will in place leaving them assets, potentially jeopardising the roof over their heads. Not having a will could also mean an elderly surviving parent gets all the assets – even if you are estranged from them – rather than a sibling which may in term mean more of the parents estate will become subject to inheritance tax. Even if you are married and your assets go to your partner without a Will their financial future could be at risk if the assets are not ring fenced for them. For example, your former partner might re marry and later get divorced with their ex-partner receiving assets that could’ve benefitted the children.
So why are so many people leaving it to chance? The main reason for this lack of preparation appears to be apathy. The most common response (38%) when asked why people to not have a will was that they simply “hadn’t got round to it yet” this was even higher for those 45 and above, where 50% of respondents admitted they “hadn’t got round to it” Other reasons cited include not having enough assets to write one (32%) and feeling too young to worry about one (24%) although this response was, as would be expected, the highest amongst those aged 18-24 (71%).
Amongst those who do have a Will, about one in four (23%) admit it never reviewing it. Changes in circumstances such as relationships and family births and deaths, as well as legal tax changes mean that Wills should be reviewed periodically.
- The Legacy Year Book 2019