Experts from a Midlands law firm are urging people to write a will to ensure their assets are divided in a way they choose, without leaving behind financial problems and heartache for loved ones.
The alert has come from Melinda Rice, a senior associate at mfg Solicitors, who says those who don’t make their final wishes clear in a legally-binding will instead have to rely on a set of rules known as the laws of intestacy.
Ms Rice said: “We always recommend people have a will in place to ensure their estate passes to the beneficiaries they wish it to and that the appropriate people are chosen as Executors to deal with the estate. It’s surprising how many people just don’t bother which means intestacy laws come into play, meaning the future of any estate can be less certain.
“Many people delay writing a will because they believe it could be inconvenient or expensive. But they must have the required mental capacity to communicate their wishes, so it is better to get a will sorted sooner rather than later – and update it if personal circumstances or relationships have changed.
“Timing is also a consideration. For example, applications for certain types of intestacies can’t be done online, they have to be made on paper, and these generally take six to eight months to complete.
“If there are mortgages or other debts secured on properties, this can lead to additional stresses while waiting for a grant to be issued so the property can be sold or other arrangements made with the lender.”
Ms Rice added there were also other complications family members and loved ones could face without a will in place, including the fact that surviving spouses of couples who are married or in a civil partnership would only be entitled to the first £322,000 of the deceased’s estate and 50% of the rest of the estate over this amount (apart from certain jointly owned assets), meaning they could be left with less than expected. Children from previous relationships could also be left with no inheritance, which may not be what the deceased intended.
She added: “Intestacies where minor children inherit can be even more complicated as these kind of applications cannot be made through the online probate system at present, and there is no sign of that changing any time soon.
“Where parents are divorced, it may be that the minor child’s other parent will automatically be appointed one of the personal representatives, with that parent needing to nominate a second person to act alongside them. In certain circumstances, this may not be what the deceased parent would have wanted.
“Wills give protection for assets passing to minor children by appointing individuals who are trusted to protect them for when they reach 18.
“Losing a loved one is always painful, but things can be made even worse if they have died without leaving a will.
“Having a will, and especially one that is up-to-date, can make matters much more straightforward than leaving things up to your family to deal with after you pass away. Setting a short amount of time aside to write a will could save your loved ones a huge amount of hassle and heartache.”
Readers looking for further advice can email Melinda Rice at mfg Solicitors through firstname.lastname@example.org