Most of us like to exercise some control in our life, but equally many hold back on making provision in a will to deal with how we wish our property, known as an estate, to be dealt with when we are gone. This reluctance can have significant and unforeseen consequences.
The law makes provision for those who die without leaving a will – this is known as dying intestate – but that provision may not be what we would wish to happen. These provisions are known as the intestacy rules.
To illustrate how these rules operate we should consider two important aspects of making a will.
Firstly a person making a will can appoint someone to deal with their estate after they have gone; this individual is known as an executor. However the rules of intestacy set down a strict order of priority as to who is entitled to apply to deal with an estate. This person who may be entitled under the rules may not be the first choice of the individual who is deceased.
Secondly, many common misunderstandings surround who is entitled to what in an estate in cases of intestacy. For example it is widely believed that the deceased’s widow or widower will inherit the whole estate automatically if someone dies intestate.
Whilst this may be so in some instances it is not always the case. The rules laid down by law determine entitlement of various parties depending on their relationship to the person who has died. (i.e. widow, children, parents, brother and sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins etc) Any such entitlement is also dependant, in part, on the value of the estate.
The consequence of this is that a share of an estate can be inherited by individuals that the deceased would not have wished to, persons with whom they had a family relationship but little or no regular contact or a larger share than intended may pass to an individual. Additionally particular difficulties can arise in cases where there has been a divorce or a dissolvement of a civil partnership or where there are unmarried partners.
Making a will rather than leaving matters to the blunt instrument of the intestacy rules allows a person to exercise control over what happens when they’re gone specificially;
– determining who should benefit under their estate,
– determining who deals with their estate,
– appointing guardians for any minor children,
– making gifts of specific items to individuals for sentimental reasons
Drawing up a will also allows property to be passed on in a tax-efficient manner.
Having a will avoids many difficulties which might otherwise arise in administering an estate and provides peace of mind. At Robert G. Sinclair & Co we can provide advice tailored to your particular wishes and to your circumstances to help you ensure that an appropriate will is made.
If you want more information speak to our wills and probate department or contact us to arrange an appointment to obtain more advice.