01 Nov Will You? or Won’t You?
We speak to people every day about the importance of writing a will to ensure that your loved ones are not left with the extremely difficult task of sorting out your estate during a time when they will be grieving. Shockingly, the latest figures from Co-Op Legal Services suggest that 60% of UK adults do not have a will in place, which amounts to more than 31 million people!! I’m sure you will agree that this is a frightening statistic. Dying without a valid will in place is called dying ‘intestate’ and when this happens inheritance laws come into play that often do not consider modern family situations that are very common today.
A recent conversation with a colleague really highlighted the issues that can arise when someone dies intestate in today’s modern society, this is her story (names have been changed to protect their identity):
Over the last 5 years, Julie’s 62-year-old Uncle, Dave, had been suffering from poor health, he had suffered a heart attack that resulted in him needing a triple heart bypass, he was asthmatic, diabetic, had a cancerous growth removed from his ear and had problems with his kidney function. However, he wasn’t one to give in easily and he fought hard to live a normal life, enjoying spending time with his family and friends.
Various members of the family had broached the subject of Dave putting a will in place since he and his long-term partner of 25 years (Sophie) were not married. Dave’s stock answer was ‘what do I need a will for? I don’t care what happens to my stuff once I’m dead’. The family tried to explain that having a will would make sorting out his estate far easier for Sophie and his elderly mother should the unthinkable happen, but Dave was insistent that he had ‘plenty of years left in him yet’.
Sadly, this was not the case and in September 2018 Dave suffered a massive stroke whilst on holiday with his family and he died 24 hours later in hospital in Yorkshire. The absence of a valid will meant that Dave had died intestate and the process of sorting out his estate was not going to be plain sailing for Sophie and the rest of his family.
Under the rules of intestacy Dave’s long-term partner Sophie was not legally entitled to inherit any of Dave’s estate as they were not married and in the absence of any children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren the administration of Dave’s estate fell to his elderly Mother, who was not well enough to take on this responsibility. As a result, a decision was made to apply for a grant of representation that would enable Sophie to become the administrator of Dave’s estate, this application is still being processed as this blog is being written and Dave’s estate remains frozen until an administrator can be appointed.
The stress associated with intestacy for close relatives and friends of the deceased can be easily avoided by ensuring that you have a valid will in place that outlines how you want your estate to be handled. A couple of hours of your time now could save your relatives many hours of heartache and headaches in the future.
If you would like to discuss an existing will or need advice about preparing a will drop us an email at email@example.com and we will be happy to help.