In England and Wales, if you die with no valid Will in place, then the law decides who inherits everything you own under strict inheritance rules. No one else will be able to make this decision on your behalf, regardless of whether or not it’s what you would have wanted.
The best way to ensure that your wishes are clear regarding who your home, money, possessions and your pets should go to after you die is to make a legally valid Will. The Will should clearly state your wishes and be able to be easily found when the time comes.
We offer fixed fee Wills and all Co-op Wills are securely stored free of charge for your lifetime.
What Happens if I Die Without Making a Will?
If you die without a valid Will in place, this is known as dying “Intestate”. In these circumstances, there are strict inheritance laws known as the Rules of Intestacy which will dictate who should inherit everything that you own, including your money, possessions, home and even your pets (as they are your “possessions” in law).
The Rules of Intestacy place family members in an order of priority, often not accommodating for modern family structures. Step children are not recognised under these rules and neither are unmarried partners, even if the two of you live together for many years. This means that everything you own (known collectively as your Estate) could be distributed in a way that you wouldn’t have wanted.
Benefits of Making a Will
“Peace of mind” is often the first thing that many of our Will writing customers say when they know that their Will is done.
When you make a Will, you can name the people or organisations that you would like to inherit from you. These are called your Beneficiaries. There are no restrictions on who you can choose as your Beneficiaries or how many Beneficiaries you can have. These could be friends, relatives, charities or other individuals or organisations.
You can choose to leave various percentages of your Estate to your Beneficiaries or you can state that you would like a specific item or specific sum of money to go to a Beneficiary. For example, you can say that you would like your watch to go to your nephew, Stephen, a sum of £1,000 to go to your niece, Lucy, and the rest to be split evenly between your siblings, Mark, Jane and Daniel.
You may want to leave an amount to be shared equally between your grandchildren, for example. In this instance, it’s best not to name the grandchildren individually, because if more grandchildren come along they would not be named in the Will.
You can name one or more Executors in your Will. The role of an Executor is to wind up your affairs and distribute your Estate in line with the terms of your Will. It’s important to appoint Executors that you trust, as this will be the person (or people) responsible for distributing your Estate in line with the law and the terms of your Will. An Executor can be someone who you have also named as a Beneficiary, but it doesn’t need to be.
Your Will also provides you with an opportunity appoint Guardians for any children that you have under the age of 18. This means that you’ll know your children will be taken care of by the right people after you pass away.
In addition, you can also use this opportunity to set out any funeral wishes that you have, so that your loved ones know exactly what to do when the time comes.
I’ve Told My Family What I Want – Isn’t that Enough?
Even if you’ve told your family who you would like your money and possessions to go to after you die, the law will still decide who should inherit these under the Rules of Intestacy. This can lead to arguments between family members and additional distress at an already difficult time. The only way to ensure that your wishes are clear, is to set them out in a legally valid Will.
How Can I Make a Will?
Many people expect writing a Will to be a time consuming and complicated process. At Co-op Legal Services, we make Will writing easy. You can make your Will from the comfort of your own home, from work, or even on the go, without the need to go into a Solicitor’s office.
Start to make a Will online now or contact us if you have any questions.
Call our Will writers for initial advice on 03306069591 or contact us online and we will call you.