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What happens if you die together?

This is one of those questions which stumps most of my clients. Strangely, it is not something that people seem to think about that often.

In the absence of wills, in this situation, a deceased's person's estate could pass to a distant unknown relative or at worst, the state. In these circumstances the order of death becomes of paramount importance as the Intestacy Rules will determine the destination of assets. In these catastrophic situations statute intervenes to provide that, when two or more people die in circumstances where it is impossible to say who died first, the youngest is deemed to have survived the eldest. Therefore the estate of the eldest is administered first and distributed in accordance with their will, with the youngest estate being administered last, potentially inheriting from the estates of the older family members. On an intestacy where an intestate and spouse (or civil partners) die when it is impossible to tell who died first, and the eldest dies without making a will, they are deemed to have survived the younger. If a person makes a will this whole situation can be avoided! You include a survivorship clause in their will. By including a survivorship clause the final destination of assets can be jointly decided by the individuals making wills and the disposition of each estate will depend on their own Will, whatever disaster befalls. The will makes the decision about where things go, not statute.

Anyway, perhaps after we all survive the Coronavirus we will have spent so much time with our families we will all be holidaying separately so we will never need to worry again!!

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