What Will You Assume?
- AuthorMike Downey
If you are married with children and have no valid Will in place, you would be wrong to assume that all of your assets necessarily pass to your spouse on your death.
If you remarry/divorce and do not create a new Will, or die without ever having made a valid Will, your assets will be dealt with under “The Intestacy Rules” and you will be classed as “dying intestate”.
The Intestacy Rules are created by statute and state how your estate will be shared out on your death.
These rules changed in February 2020 but were drowned out in the media by the dominance of the coronavirus pandemic.
This is the first time the rules have changed since 2014. The key change is that when someone dies without a Will and they have children, if their estate is worth more than £270,000, their spouse receives only the first £270,000 and their spouse/children then split anything above that figure. Previously the figure was £250,000.
To give an example, a hypothetical scenario is set out below:
Mary is married to her husband David, they have two children, Sam and Pete. Neither Mary nor David have written a legally valid Will. Mary sadly passes away, leaving an estate totalling £500,000.
Because Mary has not left a valid Will, her estate will be dealt with under the Rules of Intestacy. Her spouse, David, will inherit £270,000. The remaining £230,000, will be split 50/50 between her husband David, and their two children, Sam and Pete. This would mean that David would receive a total of £345,000 (£270,000 + £115,000). Sam and Pete would receive £57,500 each.
The first takeaway here is that you should not assume that if you die without a Will all of your estate will pass to your spouse. Secondly, you should keep your Will up-to-date. Our experts can help you by discussing numerous scenarios which you may not have considered. For example, caring for step/foster children, considering the practicalities of appointing guardians for any children, and putting money into a trust.