If you have not made a Will, it is advisable to do so to ensure that your money and possessions pass to those you wish to receive them. This is particularly important for unmarried couples.
If you die without a Will, the laws of intestacy apply. New rules apply as of 1 October 2014. So, what are the rules now?
The surviving spouse receives everything. Prior to 1 October, the surviving spouse would have received only the first £450,000 and half of the rest of the estate. The remaining half would have passed to surviving relatives according to a pecking order.
The surviving spouse receives the first £250,000 and half of the remainder of the estate. The children then receive the remaining half when they reach 18 years of age. Prior to 1 October, this was more complicated in that the spouse would have still received the first £250,000 but would have had a ‘life interest’ in half of the remainder (i.e. income but not capital). The children would then receive the other half of the remainder at 18 and the capital of the spouse’s life interest upon his/her death.
The surviving partner receives nothing, regardless of how long they have lived together as a couple. This rule did not change on 1 October.
The surviving partner receives nothing. The children inherit, but not the partner. Again, this did not change on 1 October.
If there is no surviving spouse, the estate passes according to the following list:
1. Children and grandchildren
3. Brothers, sisters or their children
4. Half siblings or their children
6. Uncles, aunts or their children
7. Half uncles/aunts or their children
Your estate would pass to the Crown, i.e. Her Majesty the Queen!