The BBC has recently reported that the number of queries relating to Wills and inheritance received by the Citizens Advice has increased dramatically over the last few years. The queries have particularly related to instances in which people have died without making a Will, with surviving relatives unsure of the consequences and procedures that follow.
The BBC article references a YouGov poll, which suggested that less than half of the adult population of the UK has made a valid Will. Perhaps the reason for the low rate is that people are unaware of the potential consequences of not making a Will, which can be severe. That is because, when somebody dies without a Will, there are set rules that decide how that person’s cash and assets are to be divided and who is to receive them. The results can include:
- People benefitting from the Estate against the Deceased’s wishes;
- People not benefitting from the Estate despite the Deceased wanting them to do so;
- An increased tax bill;
- The Deceased being unable to choose who is responsible for administering the Estate;
- Disputes regarding the inheritance or claims against the Estate may be more likely if there is no valid Will.
If you do wish to make a Will, it is important to seek independent legal advice, not only to ensure that it is valid and not open to challenge by potentially disappointed beneficiaries, but also to make sure that it utilises any potential tax advantages.
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