05 January 2024

For many, January is a time to think afresh and plan for the future, with those you care about in mind.

Making a Will may not be top of your to do list, but do you know what would happen if you died without one? Do you need to update your current Will?

Importance of making a Will:

  • A will ensures that your assets are distributed according to your preferences.
  • Without a valid Will, assets may be distributed according to the rules of intestacy (these dictate who gets what from the estate of a person who has died) these rules may not align with your wishes.

The rules for distribution:

  • Different scenarios are outlined based on marital status, children, and other factors.
  • Unmarried couples and those not in a civil partnership are not covered by rules.
  • If married/in a civil partnership with children, your partner takes all your personal possessions (not cash/investments) and the first £322,000 of your assets. This may cover everything. If not, the balance is split, 50% to your partner and 50% to the children equally. If any of your children have died before you, they take instead. Note, stepchildren are not included.
  • If married/in a civil partnership without children, all will go to your partner. If you have separated (unless you have a decree absolute) they will still inherit.
  • If you are not married/in a civil partnership and have no children, your parents inherit equally. Do they need to or do they want to inherit from you? Will it give them an inheritance tax problem that could be avoided by skipping to the next generation?
  • Without surviving parents, your brothers and sisters of the whole blood inherit equally. Without them, half siblings would inherit instead. Grandparents are next in line followed by aunts and uncles.

Complications in Distribution:

  • The distribution of assets can become complicated as the children of siblings or aunts and uncles can inherit if those relatives have died before you.
  • It's essential to account for all possible scenarios and plan accordingly.

It is worth noting that a Will does not deal with all your resources:

  • Jointly owned assets – if you own your home as joint tenants, or have a joint bank account, for example, then these assets
  • joint bank account for example or own your home as joint tenants, then those assets will pass to the survivor automatically on death. This is straightforward but what about ISAs? Or hold your home as tenants in common? You will need a Will.
  • Death in service benefits - who is named recipient?
  • Pensions - these funds are totally separate from your other assets. They will pass outside your Will.
  • Life assurance - do you have a policy that you have forgotten about? Check the arrangements to find out, they may need updating.
  • Reviewing arrangements for these assets is crucial to ensure they align with your current wishes.

Battens’ Private Client team will be able to advise you on a wide range of issues including writing or updating your Will, Trusts, Lasting Powers of Attorney, probate and tax planning.

For more information contact Lucy Horsington on 01935 811313 or email