Without a valid Will in place, the ‘Laws of Intestacy’ will apply which means that your assets will be shared out in a standard way and not necessarily in the way you would have wished.
It is usually necessary for your estate to go through the process of Probate before your heirs receive any of their inheritance. Your Will appoints your Executor who oversees this process. Without one and with no clear understanding of who is to receive what from your estate, the process will almost certainly become a lot more protracted and bureaucratic.
The amount of Inheritance Tax paid on an Estate depends on who is inheriting. If the ‘Laws of Intestacy’ are applied, it can often be the case that more of your estate will be subject to Inheritance Tax.
If you have young children or vulnerable adults, who are dependent on you, a Will enables you to nominate who is to look after them after you have gone. Without a Will in place this decision will be made by the state.
What to consider next?
Your Last Will and Testament will identify what you want to happen but on its own it is unlikely to provide the level of protection and certainty that most of us would want for our loved ones and ourselves.
We need to consider how to protect against those eventualities in our own life that can put our assets and wishes at risk, such as losing capacity. We also need to consider common eventualities that could befall our heirs that would cause them to lose their inheritance.
We should consider:
Trusts if we want to reduce bureaucracy after we have passed on and if we want to ensure that our loved one’s inheritance is not at risk.
Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) if we want to reduce the burden placed on loved and trusted ones if we suffer a loss of capacity.