Huw Worthington advises on the importance of making a will and the consequences of dying intestate.
Over 60% of the population of Northern Ireland die without making a will.
Reasons vary from apathy, fear of dying, a reluctance to address the inevitable, a belief that they haven’t anything worth leaving or that the wife will take care of everything!!
Statistically men are the weaker sex and will die earlier than their wife and it is ironic that men appear to be more reluctant than women to make wills. On first death it is correct to assume that most assets will go to the wife.
For an average couple the house will automatically pass to the wife, if it is held as joint tenants (check your title deeds to clarify this) as will joint bank accounts.
There are however two major issues you should be aware of
- 1. Intestacy Rules. If the husband dies intestate (without making a will) the first £250,000 passes to the wife (along with personal items) but she will only receive 50% of the remainder - the balance passes to the children!!
2. Fatal Accident Scenario. If the husband and wife die in quick succession who will look after the finances and more importantly the children until they reach adulthood?
A Guardian clause and a Trustee clause - the Guardian looks after the kids and the Trustees the cash - will be essential in the above example.
Finally remember that if you are in a relationship with a partner who is not your legal spouse the Intestacy Rules will not be sufficient to give your partner adequate financial protection. Making a will gives certainty as to who you wish to look after your nearest and dearest and creates certainty as to your intentions.
This article incorporates general legal principles and specific legal advice should be obtained as individual circumstances differ.
Huw Worthington is a member of the Society of Estate and Trust Practitioners, the leading worldwide professional body for practitioners in the field of estates, trusts and related matters. Our Wills and Estates department provide specialist advice on all matters relating to Wills and Estate planning solutions, as well as the administration of estates, contested Wills, Intestacy and Inheritance tax advice.