It is important for you to make a will whether or not you consider you have many possessions or much money. It is important to make a will because:-

  • if you die without a will, there are certain rules which dictate how the money, property or possessions should be allocated. This may not be the way that you would have wished your money and possessions to be distributed
  • unmarried partners and partners who have not registered a civil partnership cannot inherit from each other unless there is a will, so the death of one partner may create serious financial problems for the remaining partner
  • if you have children, you will need to make a will so that arrangements for the children can be made if either one or both parents die
  • it may be possible to reduce the amount of tax payable on the inheritance if advice is taken in advance and a will is made
  • if your circumstances have changed, it is important that you make a will to ensure that your money and possessions are distributed according to your wishes. For example, if you have separated and your ex-partner now lives with someone else, you may want to change your will. If you are married or enter into a registered civil partnership, this will make any previous will you have made invalid.
What Are The Rules Of Intestacy

When a person dies without leaving a valid will, their property (the estate) must be shared out according to certain rules. These are called the rules of intestacy. A person who dies without leaving a will is called an intestate person.

Only married or civil partners and some other close relatives can inherit under the rules of intestacy.

If someone makes a will but it is not legally valid, the rules of intestacy decide how the estate will be shared out, not the wishes expressed in the will.

Jointly - Owned Property

Couples may jointly own their home. There are two different ways of jointly owning a home. These are beneficial joint tenancies and tenancies in common.

If the partners were beneficial joint tenants at the time of the death, when the first partner dies, the surviving partner will automatically inherit the other partner’s share of the property. However, if the partners are tenants in common, the surviving partner does not automatically inherit the other person’s share.

For more information about beneficial joint tenancies and tenancies in common, see Buying with someone else under “Buying a Property”.  Couples may also have joint bank or building society accounts. If one dies, the other partner will automatically inherit the whole of the money.

Property and money that the surviving partner inherits does not count as part of the estate of the person who has died when it is being valued for the intestacy rules.