Probate and Will, Trust & Estate Disputes

Publish date

19 March 2024

Who do you want to inherit your estate? How to make sure your assets pass on as you wish

Journalist Katie Gatens recently wrote an article in the Sunday Times, covering cases where estates did not pass in line with the deceased person’s wishes, as they had failed to make a will. The article explained the life changing consequences this had on the disappointed beneficiaries. Una Angus, a Senior Paralegal in our Wills, Estate & Tax Planning team, points out the importance of taking expert legal advice and putting a will in place to ensure your assets are given to the people you want to inherit your estate.

Under English law, if you don’t have a valid will in place when you die, the intestacy rules will apply to your estate, for example:

1) If you’re widowed, your estate will be given to your children equally, even if you’re estranged from them.

2) If you’re unmarried but live with your partner, your partner receives nothing under the intestacy rules and your entire estate passes in the following order:

    1. Children (or remoter descendants); or if none,
    2. Parents; or if none,
    3. Brothers and sisters; or if none,
    4. Half brothers and sisters; or if none,
    5. Grandparents; or if none,
    6. Uncles and aunts; or if none,
    7. Half-uncles and aunts; or if none,
    8. The Crown, as bona vacantia.

3) If you’re married and have children, your estate passes as follows:

a) Your surviving spouse takes your personal belongings, a legacy of £322,000, and half of the rest of your estate

b) The other half of your estate goes to your children.

By putting a will in place you’re able to choose:

  • The people who will deal with your assets
  • The people who will act as guardians for any minor children
  • The people and/or charities to benefit and the amount – whether cash gifts, specific items and/or a percentage of your estate.

We have looked after the affairs of our clients for generations and have a great deal of experience in this area of practice.  If you require specific professional advice, please discuss with your usual contact in the firm or email me for further information.

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