What happens if you die without a will

We can’t tell you enough how important it is to have a will made during your lifetime, however, we also understand that there are instances when this is impossible; where deaths are unexpected.

When people die without a will in place, it has consequences for the remaining family members, even if it was down to an unexpected illness or accident.

Dying without a will is called intestacy, and everything from then on must go by the Rules of Intestacy, rather than the wishes of the deceased. But this is not only the case when the will doesn’t exist, this will happen under the following conditions of a will too:

  • Not signed at all
  • Not signed in front of two independent witness
  • Not known where it is
  • Not found because it was destroyed
  • Cancelled because the person had married after making the will

These conditions would make the will invalid and annulled, and according to the law, the estate will be passed on to the next of kin – no matter what decisions were made prior to the death.

One common misconception is that the decision of who the property goes to will be decided entirely by the closest relatives if you die without a will, but this is not the case. It’s all down to the Rules of Intestacy.

Order of priority

To work out the eligible next of kin, there is an official order of priority to abide by, made up of the following:

  1. Husband or wife/registered civil partner
  2. Children
  3. Grandchildren
  4. The parents
  5. The brothers and sisters
  6. Nieces and nephews
  7. Children of half brothers and sisters
  8. Grandparents
  9. Uncles and aunts
  10. Cousins
  11. Half uncles and aunts
  12. Children of half uncles and aunts

This all depends on the relationship with the deceased, as well as which other relatives are alive at the death of the deceased.

Things to consider

There are certain things to consider when thinking about writing or managing a will that will dictate how the process will work, including the existence of joint bank accounts, joint property or land ownership, children, grandchildren and other close relatives, as well as the worth of the estate.

Probably the biggest risk of not having a will officially done is that your estate may not be divided exactly how you wanted it to. In other words, the intended people might not benefit as you wanted them to when you passed away.

Why you should write a will

It’s hard for anyone to imagine no longer being there for family and friends, but by making a will you are guaranteeing that your money, possessions and property are going to the best place in your opinion. You are helping to provide stability in the futures of those you love in the chance you may no longer be there.

If you die without a will or with an invalid one, it can be incredibly inconvenient to your family and friends. They will have to deal with what the law states, rather than what is best for them in your eyes and theirs.

Don’t delay in writing a will – and doing it properly too. Making sure your will is legally valid and in check will ultimately save your remaining family members a lot of unnecessary stress at an already difficult time.

It’s easy to do too – get in touch with a solicitor and they will make sure that everything you need is in place, and only for a small fee.

If you or anyone is experiencing any issue relating to writing a will, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and we can offer your professional legal advice.

You can call us on 01375 898 870 or email us at solicitors@attwoodgroup.co.uk!