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Monday 17th January 2011
17/01/2011 - BBC Series - "Can't take it with you"
As Sir Gerry Robinson will have pointed out in his new BBC2 series ‘Can’t take it with you’ which was aired on Friday 14th January, many people do not realise that if they do not have a Will then the Intestacy Rules dictate what happens to their possessions when they die.
This can lead to uncertainty and sometimes heartbreak for those left behind. Even if you are married it does not mean that your husband or wife will automatically inherit everything from you when you die.
The rules are different for unmarried couples, and perhaps here there is even more scope for unhappiness, as there is no automatic right to inherit at all if there is no Will.
When you are married and have children but are without a Will
Your husband/wife receives the following:-
  • All personal belongings, and
  • £250,000.00, and
  • A life interest in half of everything else you owned, the other half going to the children
When you are married and have no children but are without a Will
If you have no children but have other living relatives such as a parent, brother, sister, nephew or niece then your husband/wife receives:-
  • All personal belongings, and
  • £450,000.00, and
  • Half of everything else you own.  The other half goes to the parents or other living relatives as mentioned above.
Only if you die leaving no children and have no living parents, brothers, sisters, nieces or nephews, does your husband/wife automatically receive absolutely everything you own.
Where you are unmarried (or divorced or widowed) and without a Will
Everything you own is left to your children and if you don’t have any children then your possessions transfer to your parents (if they are still living), or to your brothers or sisters, or to their children, (if your brothers or sisters have died before you). After that, your possessions pass to half brothers and sisters or their children, failing that, the next to inherit would be your grandparents, (if they are still living), followed by uncles and aunts or their children. 
Jonathan Hall from Gill Akaster LLP Solicitors says ‘People are so often unaware of the problems that can be left behind after they’ve died. They are particularly unaware that if no close relatives are found then the value of your possessions passes to the government to be added to Treasury funds. The only way to stop this is by making a proper Will to protect friends and family who are left behind when you die’.
The above rules are far from simple and without a Will spelling out precisely how you wish your possessions to be inherited when you have died, these Intestacy Rules will apply. Clearly the rules are not appropriate for everyone and you think this applies to you, then you must think about putting a Will in place.
One of our Wills, Trusts & Taxes team will be happy to discuss this with you, so please call us on 01752 203500.


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