If a loved one has passed away without a will, what should you do? It’s a question that many wills, unfortunately, have to answer. It’s unfortunate because dying without a will means the process becomes much more difficult and all of the wishes of the deceased will probably not happen.

Dying without a will has many consequences. So, if I could tell you one thing, it would be to GET A WILL ASAP. Here we will look at what happens if you pass away with no will and what steps need to be taken by your family.

What happens when you die without a will
Rules of intestacy

The first place to start when talking about dying without a will is the rules of intestacy. This is a set of rules that are in place that determine what happens to the estate (the assets and stuff). There is a predetermined list of who inherits your assets and there is little that can be done to challenge that.

Without a will, the first person the estate will go to is the spouse. They will get the first £270,000 of the estate along with all personal property and possessions. This can be an issue with unmarried couples as the surviving partner is not legally recognised, and therefore won’t receive anything from the will. There is also the possibility of a spouse being entitled to the estate even if they had separated from the deceased but were not yet divorced.

Without a will and without a spouse

If there is no spouse or the estate is valued at over £270,000, the next to inherit would be the children. With a spouse, the children (including adopted children) will receive 50% of anything above that £270,000 figure, shared equally between them. This rule does not include step-children, who do not receive anything. Partners, civil partners, in-laws, friends or carers don’t receive anything either with the rules of intestacy.

After children, the line of potential inheritance then goes to grandchildren, great-grandchildren, parents, siblings and then other close relatives. The exact people to inherit will depend on a number of different circumstances. I cannot stress enough how important it is to get a will! You don’t want your family or friends missing out on your wishes just because it may not be considered a ‘legal’ relationship in the eyes of the state.

Grant of letter of administration

When someone dies with a will, the executor will need to apply for a grant of probate to legally be in charge of the estate. Without a will, the process is similar, but instead, you have to apply for a grant of letters of administration.

In a will, you can name anyone as an executor, such as a close friend or family member who is not also a beneficiary (someone who receives anything from the will). However, without a will, it will only be one of the beneficiaries as determined by the rules of intestacy who can apply to take charge of the estate as the executor.

Post-death, there is a lot of responsibility on the executor and without a will, this may end up falling to someone who isn’t suited to the role. They may not have the time, skills or capacity to do the work and this can make the situation much more difficult. So, just make a will and choose someone to be an executor for everyone’s peace of mind.

Other consequences of dying without a will

Many things can be stated in a will that could otherwise be an issue without one. Below are some sticky and tricky situations you can avoid by getting a will.

Guardianship – Without a will, you’ll have no control over who becomes the guardian of your children. This will be decided by the courts who will try to find the most suitable candidate.

Future planning – You may not be able to set up your family financially for the future, such as setting up a trust for your young children.

Possessions – All your possessions will fall into your estate. This means that they will all go to the persons who inherit them under the rules of intestacy and your wishes for where they should go would never be known.

Funeral – You could be buried instead of cremated. Or have a massive service when you just wanted a simple get together with family and friends. You can state your wishes for all of this in a will.

Tax benefits – Inheritance tax rules can be quite complicated. Without a will, a lot of money could end up going to the government that should have gone to your family or to charity.

Make a will today

If you’re looking at this and thinking now is the time to get a will, you’re right. There has never been a better and easier time to protect you, your assets, your family and your loved ones. We have all the Will FAQs here and you can get started today!

No nonsense life cover is just a few minutes.

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