13th October 2013 by Dave Downie
Procrastinators of the world unite……….tomorrow……….or maybe next week. It’s easy to put off things that we don’t like, such as that long overdue appointment with the dentist, or things that we don’t like to spend time thinking about, like making a will.
“I just haven’t got round to it” was the number one reason given by those who didn’t have a will in research conducted on behalf of Standard Life. Over half (54%) of those between the ages of 55 and 64 fell into this category.
Get it for free
If you are among the 10% who used cost as an excuse there is some help at hand – unless you are also a procrastinator. October is free wills month. A number of solicitors across the country have teamed up to offer their services to the over 55’s for free. And any voluntary donations will go to charity.
Relying on the state
Failing to put a will in place means you’re putting the distribution of your assets at the mercy of the intestacy rules. These are the rules to determine who gets what if you die without making a will. In England & Wales these fixed rules date back to 1925 when times and attitudes were very different from today. And the results may surprise you…
For example, if a married couple have no children, and the husband dies, the common assumption is that his widow inherits the whole estate.
Not the case!
The widow only inherits everything if her husband’s parents or siblings are no longer alive, or if the estate falls below a certain value. She could find her in-laws or her late husband’s siblings would be entitled to a share of the estate.
There are plans to bring these rules back into the 21st century. A modernisation of the intestacy provisions for England & Wales and simplification of certain inheritance rules to more closely reflect the reality of families today is around the corner.
Under the proposals the widow(er) would inherit everything in cases where there are no children. It shifts the balance back in favour of the widow(er) and away from the parents and siblings of the deceased.
This could have a positive impact on as many as 5.9 million* UK married couples without children.
However, there are no changes to be made which would see this modern approach extended to the 2.9 million** co-habiting couples. The Government has rejected the Law Commission’s recommendation that unmarried couples should be treated in the same way once they had been living together for a set period of time.
Don’t leave it to chance
But no matter where you live in the UK or who you live with, if you want to protect the position of your spouse or partner, the best route is to follow the advice in the Law Commission Report:
“If this Report has one over-arching message to the public, it is this: make a Will and keep it under review.” Make it quick, and make it for free.
David Downie is also a regular blogger on www.moneyplusblog.co.uk