The proportion of UK adults that don’t have a Will is currently at an all-time high, with well over half saying that they do not have a Will in place. This amounts to more than 31 million people who are risking everything they own by letting the law decide who should inherit everything from them when they die.
According to research published by unbiased.co.uk earlier this year, the number of people at risk of dying without a Will in place is now even higher than it was in 2011, when the figures last peaked.
Dying without a valid Will in place is called dying ‘intestate’. When this happens, strict inheritance laws come into play to establish who is entitled to inherit what. These laws are called the Rules of Intestacy.
What are the Rules of Intestacy?
The Rules of Intestacy in England & Wales are strict and often do not allow for modern family situations. Under these inheritance rules, a person’s spouse or civil partner is recognised as the person who should benefit the most. Then it’s the person’s children or grandchildren, followed by their parents, then brothers and sisters, then grandparents, aunts and uncles and so on. If there are no living relatives that are recognised under these rules, then everything would go to the Crown.
You could find that some of your loved ones aren’t accommodated at all under these laws, with the Rules of Intestacy not even acknowledging some relatives as people who should inherit from you.
Among those that are not recognised under these rules are cohabiting partners. If a couple is living together without being married or in a Civil Partnership, this is known as cohabitation. There is currently no legal recognition for cohabiting couples under the intestacy rules, regardless of how long the couple have been together. This means that if one person died without having a Will in place that named their partner as a Beneficiary, they would not be automatically entitled to inherit anything at all from their estate.
With cohabitation on the rise and over 3 million couples in the UK living together at the moment, this is a worrying situation. Many wrongly believe that they would be entitled to inherit from their partner. For more information, see Cohabiting Couples are Not Automatically Entitled to Inherit.
Another important point to note is that step children are also omitted under these rules, with only biological or legally adopted children being recognised. This could impact on a significant number of families across England and Wales. For more information, see Step-Children, Wills and Inheritance.
Why are So Many People Not Making Wills?
It’s impossible to know exactly what is leading so many people to risk dying intestate, but there are a number of common themes that arise when discussing Wills. One contributing factor is likely to be the common misconception that that friends and family will be able to decide between them what happens to a person’s money, assets and belongings when they die. But sadly this is not the case and these decisions are taken out of the family’s hands completely, to be handled by the law instead.
Others may feel that they are simply too young or too healthy to be thinking about death. As a nation, we are reluctant to broach the subject of death and instead we tend to avoid it. This could lead to people putting off the job of making a Will until it’s too late.
It’s also a common belief that making a Will is a complicated, confusing and time consuming process, with many people claiming that they simply haven’t got around to it yet because of this. Finally, the perceived cost of making a Will may also be acting as a deterrent, with some assuming that it will be expensive to do.
Making a Will with Co-op Legal Services
Making a Will doesn’t need to be a time consuming, complicated or expensive process. With Co-op Legal Services, you can make a single Will from as little as £150 including VAT and free, secure storage of your Will.
With our Online Will service, you can start making your Will online, at any time of day, 365 days of the year. You then select a convenient time for a follow up call with an experienced Will Writer to review your wishes and circumstances to make sure that we’re making the right will for you. Appointments times are available Monday to Friday from 9am-7pm.
The Will Writer will discuss your circumstances and talk through the details of your Will before sending you a draft will in the post to review. At this stage you can make further changes at no additional cost, and once you’re happy with everything, you will be sent the final Will to sign. We’ll then store it for you, free of charge, for the rest of your life.
“We put off sorting our Wills for such a long time because we thought it would be costly and time-consuming. But we now wish we had done it earlier.” Linda and Chris Bridgeman
For initial advice about making a Will call our Will writers on 03306069591 or contact us online and we will help you.