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What happens if you don't leave a will

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Sadly, not many of us get around to making a will; roughly six in ten adults die each year without having made a valid will. This is known as dying ‘intestate’ and in these circumstances, the law sets out who is entitled to inherit the assets of the deceased person and the order in which they inherit.

From 6 February 2020, if you die without having made a will and leave a surviving spouse (or registered civil partner) and children, then your spouse (or registered civil partner) will be entitled to the first £270,000 of your estate (the statutory legacy). This has been increased from the £250,000 which was the figure in place since October 2014.

If your estate is worth more than £270,000, the balance of the estate is divided as follows:

Half for your surviving spouse / registered civil partner, on top of the £270,000 statutory legacy

Half for your children.

If there are no children, or the estate is worth less than £270,000, then everything passes to your surviving spouse / registered civil partner.

Remember, there is no such thing in law as a “common-law” spouse, so if you are in a relationship with someone and you are not married or in a civil partnership then the survivor of you is not entitled to anything from your estate (even if you have children together).

It has to be remembered that these rules are a default position and you should always consider making a will and making sure that you have the correct arrangements in place to protect your interests if you are not married and co-habit. For more information about making a will or putting a co-habitation agreement in place please contact our new enquiries team on 0800 118 1500.