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We Did Not Make a Will; A Massive Mistake, a Massive Mistake.

View profile for Paul Hajek
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“We did not make a Will. A massive mistake, a massive mistake” were the words used by a young widow on the BBC’s One Show recently.

The show recounted the circumstances where her fit and athletic husband died whilst playing football at the age of 41, leaving her a widow with 3 young children.

Her husband did not make a Will. It had she said not crossed their minds.

Also, like most other people she did not think this would be an issue, and that she would automatically be catered for by the law, as being the surviving spouse.

What she did not know was that where you die “intestate” i.e. without making a Will, you will be governed by strict regulations known as the Intestacy Rules.

In her circumstances there were also young children under 18 years of age. The Intestacy Rules allow a sum of money to be set for her. At the time this was only £125000 (although this has now increased to £250000).

The remainder of the Estate is divided with one half for the children when they reach the age of 18 or earlier if they marry. The other half is held in trust for the children. The wife is permitted to use the income from the trust whilst she is alive. It is then given to the children on her death.

Her particular difficulty was that she was unable to work because of her young children. The money received immediately was not sufficient to support the family. As a last resort she toyed with the idea of selling their home to pay off the family’s debts.

With legal advice, she was told she could claim in effect against her own children under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975. A radical and expensive last resort, as it still relies on a judge to decide to redistribute the estate.

As she mentioned in the programme, had she and her husband made Wills, at the cost of a couple of hundred pounds, she would have saved untold emotional stress and financial drain, and saved a snowball of tens of thousands of legal fees.

The situation is even worse where a couple cohabit without marrying. No matter how long the cohabitation, if a Will has not been made the Intestacy Rules kick in.

For example if the male dies and there are no children, his estate will go to his parents if they are alive or else his siblings(of the whole blood i.e. not step siblings)

Circumstances will vary and the above is only intended as a guide. You must always obtain proper legal advice.

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A cautionary tales indeed and ones which can be easily avoided