Having No Will
Having No Will
Pen Widdrington (Senior Partner) gives expert video advice on: What is 'dying intestate'?; What happens if I die without making a will?; Can I leave some of my belongings to charity? and more...
What is 'dying intestate'?
Dying intestate is the technical expression used by lawyers to describe the situation when the deceased hasn't made a will. When that happens, the rules of succession, intestate succession, apply. They are statutory rules which state who will inherit and under what circumstances. It is best to make a will to override the rules of intestate succession that can create problems. For example, a wealthy person dies, and has an estate which is well in excess of two hundred thousand pounds. The surviving spouse/civil partner receives a statutory legacy of two hundred thousand pounds. They then receive half the remainder of the estate absolutely. The children are entitled to the other half of the estate when they become adults i.e. when they are 18. This can cause problems because it may be that one of the children decides they want their inheritance now, which means that the surviving spouse may have to move from the house, a business might have to be sold, or a farm might have to be sold to provide the necessary money for the child that wants their money at that particular moment. This is one of the prime examples of a situation whereby you should make a will to override the rules of intestate succession.
What happens if I die without making a will?
If you die without making a will, the rules of intestate succession apply, the will is administered. Again, you apply for a grant, to administer the estate. If you make a will, the will has to be approved. You apply to the probate court for a grant of probate. If you die without making a will, then one of your relatives, be it a spouse, civil-partner, or whatever or a child will probably make an application to the probate court, but this time they'll make a grant, they'll make an application for what is called a grant of administration, where you have an intesticee, the person who is appointed to administrate the estate is referred to as an administrator, as opposed to a an executor, trustee, as with a will.
Can I leave some of my belongings to charity?
You can do whatever you like in your will, as long as it's lawful. You can leave items to a charity. Items that you leave to charity, insofar as their value is concerned, they are outside the inheritance tax calculations. Gifts to charity are exempt from inheritance tax.
If I am divorced and have no will, does my former spouse get anything?
With regards to being divorced and having no will, your former spouse does not receive anything.
In the absence of a will, how is the deceased's estate administered?
If the deceased person hasn't made a will then an application is made for what is called a grant letter of administration to deal with the deceased's estate. It's still made to the probate registry. Somebody will be an administrator and will take on this job, it could be a surviving spouse, it could be children or a relative, it could be indeed be the family's lister or whoever, and they will then administer the assets of the deceased in accordance with the rules relating to intestate succession. These are statute set of rules which state in modern circumstances as to who will inherit.
I live with my partner but we are not married. Will my partner inherit my assets?
If you have no will, your partner may inherit your assets if you live with them but are not married. There is an act called the "Inheritance Provision Family Independence Act, 1975", which states that where a person has been maintained by the deceased, that person has the right to make application to the courts for just provision out of the estate, but they have to have been maintained by the deceased.