Legal MythBusters – “The Government will get my estate if I don’t make a will.”

Every legal or financial expert will advise you to create a Will. A Will is your legally-binding instruction for what should happen to your property after you have passed away. So, it makes sense to make a Will.  It is not true, however, that your estate always goes to the government if you die intestate (without a Will); this is a worst-case scenario, often used for attention-grabbing purposes to generate business. The television show ‘Heir Hunters’ often resorted to this assumption for dramatic effect: in a race against time the hosts must track down the long-lost son or daughter before the family fortune is gobbled up by the government. Entertaining though it might be, this storyline edits out a vast amount of the estate procedures, which must be observed before the case can reach such a thrilling climax.

In reality, if a person dies without a Will, a set of rules applies to determine the order of inheritance. The rules aim to provide for the family of the deceased first and foremost. If the deceased is married, or in a civil partnership, the spouse or partner becomes the first heir; in which case they will receive the entire estate, as long as there are no children. If the value of the estate is worth more than £270,000, and there are children, the spouse or partner will receive £270,000, plus half of what is left. The other half will go to the children.

Grandchildren and others further down the bloodline do not inherit directly unless the closer relatives have also passed away. Parents, and other older family members may inherit if they survive the deceased, but only if there is no spouse/partner. The estate will only pass to the government if there is absolutely no family left to inherit, this being ‘worst-case scenario’ mentioned above.

So, do not be fooled into thinking the government gets everything if you don’t have a Will. It might make good telly, but it’s a myth.  Of course, if you don’t make a Will, you won’t be able to give to friends or others you may particularly care about no matter what their relationship is to you. Providing for everyone who is important to you is what makes a legal and functional Will so important.

The thought of making a Will can seem like a burden and at Gardner Croft we understand these matters are often difficult to contemplate. Our Private Client department, is however, expert in helping people find the right solution that delivers that all-important peace of mind.

Contact us now for an initial face-to-face meeting to find out we can help you prepare for the future.