Wills and Probate

A worrying amount of people are at risk of dying without leaving a will behind them. Known as dying intestate, a survey conducted by Unbiased found that over half of UK adults are currently without a will. Those aged 55 and over are three times more likely to have a will than those aged 18-34. Despite this, even in this age group more than a third (37%) are still without one. Worryingly, the 35-54 age group is most likely to have dependants and other major financial commitments such as mortgages, yet nearly three quarters have not taken any steps to ensure that their loved ones would inherit.

What are intestacy rules and how would they affect me?

If you were to die without leaving a legally valid Will behind, you would be referred to as dying ‘intestate’. After your death, your estate would be shared out according to the rules of intestacy. This would mean that the process of valuing and distributing your estate would fall down to your next of kin or closest living relative to manage. This may not always be who you would think that it would be, as the Law has a strict order on who can deal with an intestate estate and this can prove problematic for unmarried couples or people who think they have no blood relatives.

Those who can inherit under the intestacy rules, when someone has died without leaving a Will:

  • Married and civil partners – as long as they are actually married or in a civil partnership with the deceased at time of death
  • Informally separated partners
  • Children of the intestate person – the whole estate if there is no married or civil partner, or, share of the estate is it is valued at over £250,000 and there is a surviving spouse or civil partner.
  • Children whose parents are not married or haven’t registered a civil partnership
  • Parents, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews of the intestate person, but only in certain circumstances

Those who cannot inherit under the intestacy rules UK:

  • Divorced or dissolved civil partners
  • Cohabiting partners
  • Children of the intestate person if the latter had a married or civil partner – unless the estate is worth over £250,000, in which case they will receive a share
  • Close friends
  • Carers

How do I set up a trust fund?

One way to ensure that you do not die intestate is by setting up a trust fund. You can set up Trusts in order to manage and protect your assets, including your money, investments and property. There are three different roles to be played within a UK Trust Fund, with each person having different rights and responsibilities. The three roles within a Trust fund are:

  • The ‘Settlor’, who puts the assets into the Trust
  • The ‘Trustee’, who manages the Trust, and
  • The ‘Beneficiary’, who benefits from the Trust.

There are seven main types of Trust funds. These are:

  • Bare Trusts
  • Interest in Possession Trusts
  • Discretionary Trusts
  • Accumulation Trusts
  • Mixed Trusts
  • Settlor-interested Trusts
  • Non-Resident Trusts

Contacting solicitors specialising in wills and trusts is an important step in setting up a trust fund to ensure that you do not die intestate.