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If you die without a will your assets will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy. These rules set out which relative or relatives are entitled to your estate and there are different rules depending upon whether you are married or not.

The person who deals with the practicalities of administering your estate – everything from arranging your funeral to selling your house - is also specified in a set of rules and depends on which relations survive you. This person is called your administrator. The person specified by the rules may not be the best person to deal with the administration – it could be someone who is in poor health themselves or someone who would not cope well with paperwork.

If you own assets jointly with someone else these will generally pass to the surviving owner (sometimes this is not the case with property) and this happens regardless of what the intestacy rules say. So for example if you inherited a property and jointly own it with a sibling your share may well pass to your sibling on your death rather than your spouse.

The intestacy rules may not reflect your wishes – for instance the black sheep of the family may inherit the same amount as a much loved sibling. Some of the rules date back to 1955 and so do not reflect modern family life – cohabitees have no standing and have to rely upon other legislation to bring a claim for part of your estate.

For many people it is therefore very important to make a will tailored to your wishes and obligations.

If you wish to make a will please contact cathy.warnock@edwardsandcompany.co.uk

 

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