Will Writing Frequently Asked Questions | Mortlake Law London

    Wills FAQ’s

    There are a few common misconceptions about making a Will. Here, I clarify some of the most common ones.

    “The intestacy laws take care of it all…”

    Without a valid Will, the intestacy laws dictate how your estate is distributed. An intestate’s surviving spouse/civil partner receives £250,000, all personal goods and a life interest in half the balance left over. The deceased’s children share the other half at adulthood plus the surviving spouse/civil partners half when he or she dies. This would be very unusual to do this in a Will, not least ,because children do not benefit from an inheritance tax exemption as spouses/civil partners do.

    “My common-law spouse will inherit the lot!”

    Contrary to popular belief “common-law spouse” is not a recognized legal term..

    Co-habitees and unmarried partners do not have an automatic right to inherit from someone’s estate upon death. That means they might claim against your estate and the value would be reduced by expensive and stressful litigation.

    “My affairs are not complicated so why bother?”

    With rises in divorces, second or even third marriages and children from previous relationships, a family’s personal affairs are getting more and more complicated. Many people are unaware that marriage revokes a Will!

    “We have a child/children”

    If my spouse or partner and myself both die surely my child or children will inherit automatically in due course? Under the ancient laws of intestacy, your estate would be divided equally between your children. However who is going to look after them and your property/ money in the meantime?

    It’s absolutely essential for you to nominate the future guardian(s) of your child/children if, as Oscar Wilde would have put it, they are careless enough to lose both parents.

    “My favourite charity will inherit if no near- relatives survive me”

    No, your entire estate goes to the Crown.

    It is not unknown for widows to be forced to sell the family home due to the operation of the intestacy rules and, without proper provision, children could end up being taken into care.

    Intestacy statutory rules (that apply when you die without a valid will) take no account of common-law partners, stepchildren or any other important personal relationships. A remote cousin could get everything in priority to a  fondly loved stepchild.

    The Crown could even get your house in priority to a common-law partner you’ve lived with for decades.

    Any queries please do call 0203 935 9490 or email richard@mortlakelaw.co.uk