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When homemade wills go wrong: The unseen consequences - who inherits?

Savings the pennies does not always result in the saving of pounds. Often homemade wills have holes and gaps that professionals avoid with their experience and knowledge. Mistakes in wills are only usually found when it's too late; a beneficiary has died leaving a share of an estate without a home; a badly worded gift which means the recipient cannot be identified. Where do these homeless assets go? Well it's probably not where you think!

A partial intestacy is where homeless assets end up, a headache and extra work for families at an emotionally charged time. Intestacies are governed by the Intestacy Rules. rules designed to leave the distribution of assets in the hands of the law and not families. These Rules can lead to unintended consequences and strained family relationships. Disputes may arise over the distribution of homeless assets, causing tension and conflict among family members.

So what do the rules say. Any undistributed assets will pass according to the rules written down in legislation. Now, let's break it down further. If you have a spouse or civil partner, they will typically be the primary beneficiary of your estate under intestacy. However, the specific share they receive can vary depending on factors like whether you have children, whether your children are from your current relationship or a previous one, and the laws of your jurisdiction.

If you don't have a spouse or civil partner, or if they pass away before you, intestacy rules look to your children as the next beneficiaries. Distribution can become more complicated if you have children from different relationships. Step children will not benefit under the Intestacy Rules, nor will foster children.

What happens if you don't have a spouse or children? In that case, the rules dictate that your estate will be inherited by your closest living relatives, such as parents, siblings, or more distant relatives if there are no immediate family members. What if your parents have died but you haven't spoken to your siblings for ever? Do you want them to inherit your estate?

Assets then move through the family tree. More and more distant family members could inherit; aunts and uncles you have never met, first cousins and second cousins you didn't even know existed. Until the list is exhausted. If no relatives are left alive this is when your estate goes to the Crown.

The Intestacy Rules do not take into account your specific wishes or unique circumstances. The distribution of assets will follow a predefined legal formula, which may not be what you wanted. Funds are shared between family branches, people living with vulnerabilities or disabilities are not protected, state benefits can be lost.

To avoid the uncertainties and potential disputes that can arise from intestacy, it is crucial to have a valid and up-to-date will. With a professionally drafted will, you have the power to express your wishes clearly, choose beneficiaries, and distribute your assets according to your desires. You can ensure that your loved ones are provided for in the way you wish and minimize potential conflicts among family members.

Remember, creating a valid will is a vital step in protecting your loved ones and ensuring that your assets are distributed according to your intentions. Don't leave the fate of your estate to chance—let's work together to secure a brighter future for you and your family.

Kelly's expertise goes beyond explaining intestacy rules; she guides her clients in avoiding the pitfalls altogether. She supports them to create a valid and up-to-date will, ensuring that their wishes are legally documented and their loved ones are protected. Give Kelly a call on 01622 843729 to have a chat about what you want for your family.

Family trees
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