The idea of having to hash out a will can be a morbid one to most people. There is no ‘if’ when it comes to death: it will happen, the only thing we don’t know is when it will happen. Being prepared isn’t just a Brownie code! To ensure that your belongings pass to the people without delay or argument, making a last will is as much about your wishes as your wealth. It means that you take the decisions about which of your possessions goes to whom, whether they are financial or simply sentimentally valued possessions. Making a last will is also about your beneficiary’s health as much as wealth. If you don’t have a will set up, your money and assets can actually be passed directly to the Crown despite what you may say out loud. Your chosen executor who is appointed can apply for a grant of probate which frees your estate for distribution to your family in the exact way you have already decided in your will. Spouses may not automatically inherit all of your estate and it is important to be aware that the spouse of a deceased person who died intestate does not automatically inherit the whole of the spousal estate.
Usually everything is passed automatically to a spouse but dealing with death is so difficult and if you add any uncertainty or ambiguity at the same time then health problems can undoubtedly arise. You need to make sure you have it written down when the time comes so that your loved ones are able to deal with your wishes efficiently. Companies such as wiseman.co.uk can be there for you to help you set up a will and last testament. Where the deceased has not actually left a will, your family would have to choose a representative for you to approach probate to obtain a grant of letters of administration, ensuring someone is appointed as the administrator for your estate. Following this, the estate is then distributed under the rigid rules governing the Law of Intestacy. This law, which is laid down in the Administrations of Estates Act, applies irrespective of the amount of wealth a person owns at death.
The law does not allow any opportunity to consider any wishes the deceased may have had, even if those wishes appeared obvious and written down other than by a properly executed Will. In fact, a Will that is written but isn’t executed properly could very well mean that the deceased has in fact changed their mind as to whom the beneficiaries should be. Inheritance tax may be payable on your estate when you pass away and if in any doubt about it you should speak to a solicitor. Inheritance tax thresholds vary depending on your situation and anything worth above £325,000 – including money, property investments, but after deducting debts and funeral expenses – will be subject to 40% tax. You have six months from the end of the month in which death occurred to pay the tax and payments can be from any savings or investments available within the estate.
Without that last will and testament you beneficiaries are left with the problem of obtaining a Grant of Letters of Administration and appointing an administrator in your absence to deal with disposing of your estate under the rules of intestacy.