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I’ve written a number of blogs about the importance of writing a will. But, in an article published in the Times recently, it really brought home the truth of what happens if we fail to write one and die ‘intestate’. The law then determines who will inherit depending on your family circumstances.
According to the article, two thirds of the UK’s adult population have not made a will. For those people who die ‘intestate’, and have no have no living relatives, their money could end up going to the state. But, that’s not the end of it – your family could still face a hefty tax bill and your spouse or partner could even find them even worse off.
If you have an estate of property and other assets, you can leave the first £325,000, under current rules, inheritance tax free. Above that threshold, 40% tax is applied, however, if you leave everything to your spouse in a will, there is no inheritance tax to pay at all.
If you live and in Cornwall and die intestate leaving no relatives, any estate will automatically pass to the Duchy of Cornwall – i.e. Prince Charles. He will in turn apparently hand it over to charity. Most other parts of the UK will pass estates to the Crown, but in Scotland, any property that is not jointly held, is somewhat unequally divided. Your spouse gets residential property worth up to £473,000 plus furniture and household items worth up to £29,000. If you have children, the spouse gets the first £50,000 of any savings and investments and a third of the rest. The rest is shared equally between children. An unmarried partner could get absolutely nothing. There are different rules for England and Wales.
The bottom line is, to make sure your estate is divided according to your wishes, and your family is protected, so you need to make sure you have a will. Once you write one, you should review the provisions every few years and especially if your circumstances change so it is kept up to date, for example, in the event that you re-marry, or you have more children. Don’t let the Crown, or even Prince Charles, benefit from your estate, just because of an unwritten will.
If you would like more information relating to your will, contact the Private Client team at Downs Solicitors to see how we can help.