The Wills and Estates team at Thompson Smith and Puxon discuss what might happen if you do not make a Will before you die.

For those individuals who decide not to make a Will, or don’t get around to making one before they die, their estate is distributed under rules set out by the government called the Intestacy Rules. These rules, most recently updated in October 2014 by The Inheritance and Trustee Powers Act 2014, also set out what must happen if, for example, a Will has been made but not updated and the beneficiaries have all passed away.

In some cases, whole estates pass to the Crown which, in 2012, benefited to the tune of £38.5 million from such estates. It is even more worrying to know that this was mostly made up of lots of small estates and not those of the rich.

If you are married or in a civil partnership and have children, it would be wrong to assume that on your death everything will automatically pass to your spouse or civil partner. If you have not made a Will, your spouse or civil partner will receive all of your personal possessions and the first £250,000 of your estate, together with one half of anything else that remains. Your children will then receive the other half. What if your house is worth more than the amount to which your spouse or civil partner would be entitled? What if you are estranged from your children? What if this is your second marriage and your children from your first marriage do not get on with your spouse?

If you are not married or in a civil partnership and have no children but you are living with a long term partner, how would you feel about your brothers and sisters or (failing them) your half brothers and half sisters, or even their children, inheriting your estate? In these circumstances your partner would receive nothing.

For more advice contact please do the Wills and Estates team at Thompson Smith and Puxon. Our aim is to make it as easy as possible for you to arrange for your affairs to be in order when your die, so you can carry on living your life safe in the knowledge that you have made proper arrangements for your loved ones. The team can be contacted on 01255 221919 or by email at