Dying without a will means strict intestacy rules kick in

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Inheritance planning: People could be risking their loved ones losing out due to mistaken beliefs about wills

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Don’t delay making a will: Two-thirds of Britons could die intestate – risking strict rules that can flout their wishes

  • Families are risking their loved ones losing out due to mistaken beliefs on wills
  • A third of adults assume their partner and children will automatically inherit
  • Many people fall out with family if they feel their inheritance is unfair
  • What happens when families quarrel over inheritance? This is Money readers often write to us with heart-wrenching tales – see below 

Two-thirds of people don’t have a will and many believe their family will easily agree on how to divide assets between themselves, new research has revealed.

There is also widespread confusion about how complicated it is to sort out a will, and who will inherit if you die without one.

Families are risking their loved ones losing their inheritance due to mistaken beliefs about wills, according to the study by Remember a Charity.

Inheritance planning: People could be risking their loved ones losing out due to mistaken beliefs about wills

Inheritance planning: People could be risking their loved ones losing out due to mistaken beliefs about wills

A third of people assume their partner and children will automatically inherit, and a similar number believe they only need a will if they are very wealthy, the consortium of 200 charities found.

In reality, without a will in place they are leaving their final wishes at the mercy of Britain’s intestacy rules, says the group.

Surviving spouses get at least the first £250,000, which can cut children out of the estate altogether. 

The order of inheritance when someone dies without a will is here.  

The Remember a Charity survey found 68 per cent of UK adults haven’t made a will – equivalent to 27.8million people. Some 47 per cent of over-55s have failed to arrange one.

My divorced and childless brother died without a will, so who in our family will inherit? 

A reader question detailed an estate worth about £400,000 and asked who will inherit and what percentage?

Find out the answer and order of inheritance when someone dies intestate here. 

The areas where people are least likely to have a will in place are Belfast and Sheffield, where 73 per cent and 69 per cent respectively have not undertaken the task.

But in Bristol a much lower 39 per cent of people don’t have a will, and in Edinburgh it’s 42 per cent.

Remember a Charity also found:

– Some 30 per cent don’t think they’re rich enough to have a will

– And 43 per cent believe it’s complicated to make one, 30 per cent that it’s time consuming, and 27 per cent that it’s expensive.

– Some 57 per cent are unaware that giving to charity is exempt from inheritance tax.

Find out more about the options for sorting a will, including DIY and online services, and costs here. 

Meanwhile, 70 per cent think their families will easily split their assets after they’re gone.

How giving to charity and political parties in your will can cut inheritance tax 

You can gift or bequeath money to charities and political parties and it will be excluded from your estate when inheritance tax is calculated.

A political party has to have succeeded in getting at least one MP elected to parliament to qualify for this exemption.

There is also a way to reduce your heirs’ inheritance tax rate from 40 per cent to 36 per cent of your taxable estate by giving to charity – although not to a political party.

You can do this by bequeathing at least 10 per cent of your net estate – the part liable for inheritance tax – to charity in your will. 

10 ways to avoid inheritance tax: Read a This is Money guide here. 

Yet a recent survey found many people fall out with family if they feel their inheritance is unfair.

One in four people say they would mount a legal challenge against a loved one’s will if they were unhappy with it. 

The readiness of family members to oppose a relative’s last wishes is reflected in official court statistics, which show such disputes are on the rise. 

This is a trend that lawyers put down to the intricacies of modern family life and rising property prices.

James Antoniou, head of wills at Co-op Legal Services, says: ‘The importance of having a valid will shouldn’t be under-estimated.

‘Many people wrongly think that their loved ones will automatically inherit their assets when they die but this isn’t the case. 

‘If a person dies without a will then they lose control of what happens to their estate meaning that their final wishes may not take effect, leaving disappointed loved ones behind.’

Remember a Charity urges people to make a gift to charity when they write a will.

Legacy giving raises £3billion a year for the charity sector, and helps to fund two out of three guide dogs and six out of 10 RNLI lifeboats.

Rob Cope, director of Remember A Charity, says: ‘Legacy-giving in wills is absolutely vital to the charity sector and every gift counts – no matter what size.

‘Many of us support a charity close to our heart throughout our life, so it’s wonderful to be able to continue supporting them once we’re gone too.’

What happens when families quarrel over inheritance? 

 



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