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I am not married or in a civil partnership and I do not have any children. Does it really matter if I don't have a Will?

This is a common question will drafters get asked, and the answer is, if you want to decide who inherits your estate on your death, then yes, is does matter.

If you pass away without making a valid Will, your estate will be dealt with under the Intestacy Rules and you will have no say in who inherits. This may mean that your estate will not necessarily pass to the people you would have chosen to benefit.

So, who would inherit?

If you are not married or in a civil partnership and you do not have any children, there is a fixed order of priority which governs who will receive your estate as follows:

  1. If you have no children (or children of any deceased children who died before you), your surviving parents will inherit your estate equally.
  2. If you have no surviving parents, your brothers and sisters will inherit your estate in equal shares. If any of your brother or sisters have died before you and they have surviving children of their own, their children (i.e. your nieces and nephews) will inherit their parents share.
  3. If there are none of the above, your half-brothers and half-sisters will inherit your estate. Again, if a half-brother or half-sister has died before you, their children will inherit their parents share.
  4. If there are none of the above, your surviving grandparents will inherit your estate equally.
  5. If there are none of the above, your aunties and uncles will inherit your estate. If an auntie or uncle has already died, their children (i.e. your cousins) will receive their parents share.
  6. If there are none of the above, your half-aunties and half-uncles will inherit your estate. If a half-auntie or half-uncle has already died, their children will receive their parents share.
  7. If you do not have any surviving blood relatives, your estate will pass to the Crown.

Just think, would you want your estate to pass in accordance with the list above? I often speak to customers who do not have a close relationship with all or some of their family member and they would prefer that others who they are closer to inherit their estate.

Who wouldn’t receive an inheritance from my estate?

You may wish for other people or organisations who you care about and who are not part of your direct family under the intestacy rules to benefit from your estate when you die. Those who would not be included are:

  • A partner (unmarried or not in a civil partnership)
  • Step-children (who have not been legally adopted)
  • Friends
  • Carers
  • In-law relatives
  • Charities

You may also wish to make sure that you have made arrangements for your pets to be properly looked after too. After all they are a member of the family!

To make sure your estate passes how you would want it to please contact the Wills, Trusts and Probate team on 01788 557722.

(This blog applies to the intestacy rules in England and Wales).