If you do not make a will it would be said that you have died Intestate; that means the rules of distribution are dictated by law. It is unlikely to reflect what you otherwise would have chosen.

If you are unmarried or have step children, or people you regard as “family members”, they may miss out completely. Unmarried Partners are also very vulnerable.

You would be well advised to take control of the situation by making your wishes known in advance. By making a Will, you can appoint the people of your choice to deal with your estate and include the people you would wish to benefit from it. Your family will also be spared the added complications of an intestacy at a time of deep sorrow.

 

Distributing your Estate

When you die, your assets, other than jointly held assets, are said to be “frozen”. You obviously cannot pass them on because you are not alive, so you should choose someone to do this for you.

 

Executors and Trustees

In you will you need to appoint people who you trust to be responsible for passing (distributing) your estate. These people are called your Executors. If you do not decide in advance the wrong people may be placed in control of your estate.

If somebody you want to inherit is not old enough to receive his or her share you should appoint somebody within your Will to look after it in the meantime. These people are called Trustees and are likely to be the same people who act as your Executors; although not necessarily.

 

Guardians

We all want to make sure that our children are given the best care possible if we should die before they are old enough to look after themselves.

 

Beneficiaries

These are the people, or organizations, such as charities, that you choose to benefit from your estate when you die.

If you do not decide by making a Will, not only will the rules of intestacy decide for you, but your family may have a very nasty surprise when the taxman or the local authority, come looking for their share. Both may have a legitimate claim against a large slice of your family’s inheritance.

The worst case scenario could leave the family with just £14,000.

 

Legacies

From your estate you can state that you wish to leave certain people or organizations specific items, such as a family heirloom or a fixed amount of money.

These gifts are called legacies and the people who receive them will be touched by your thoughtfulness.

 

Residual Estate

Everything remaining after debts, funeral expenses, tax and legacies is split into percentages or proportions. If you have four children you might decide that each should receive 25%. However you may distribute you assets in unequal shares.