About the Author
The contents of this Kit have been approved by Leolin Price CBE QC and Richard Dew of Ten Old Square, Lincoln s Inn, under English law, by Tughans solicitors under the law of Northern Ireland and by Neill, Clerk & Murray, solicitors, under Scottish law.
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Why a Will is important
Without a valid Will you cannot control who will inherit your property after your death. Should you die intestate (without a Will), your property will be distributed according to law, which is likely to be inconsistent with your personal wishes. In some cases your estate may go to the Crown instead of the people you want to benefit. By making a Will you can determine precisely who will inherit your property and let your loved ones know that you have considered their needs.
Equally important, you can determine who will administer your estate and who will act as guardian for any minor children you have if they are left without a surviving parent. You can also use your Will to express your preferences for burial or cremation. In addition, making a Will gives you the opportunity of reducing your Inheritance Tax liability. This is particularly important if you have substantial assets.
When you die leaving a valid Will that appoints one or two executors who are still living at the time of your death, legal ownership of all of your property passes automatically to those executors. In order to prove that they have the right to deal with your property, they must apply for a legal document confirming their right to do so from the Probate Registry. This process is called obtaining probate.
What is intestacy?
If you die without making a Will, or if your Will is invalid, you die intestate. The management of your estate is then placed in the hands of administrators who are appointed by the court and who are likely to be close members of your family. The administrators distribute your estate according to the rules of intestacy.
The rules are complex, but broadly speaking the bulk of your estate will go to your spouse (including a registered civil partner*) or, if none, to your children (whether or not they are adults) and, if none, to other blood relatives. The effect of the rules depends partly on the size of your estate. If your estate is large (currently more than £125,000 where there are children even if they are adults and £200,000 where there are none), less than you expect may go to your spouse. So it is always prudent to have a valid Will rather than rely on the intestacy rules.
*Since 5th December 2005 it has been possible for same-sex partners to register their relationships, so becoming registered civil partners. For many purposes, and for most of the rules related to Wills and intestacy, registered civil partners are treated in the same way as spouses.
It is also possible to die partially intestate. This occurs if you fail to deal with all of your property in your Will or if a particular beneficiary dies before you.
You should avoid intestacy if you make a valid Will in accordance with the instructions in this Lawpack Kit.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.