In the absence of a valid Will, an individual’s Estate will pass in accordance with set rules, known as the Rules of Intestacy. These set out the order of priority as to which individuals will inherit a Deceased’s Estate.

Whilst it is correct that a surviving spouse would be top of this list, it is incorrect that they will receive the entire Estate. Under the Rules, a surviving spouse is only entitled to inherit the first £270,000 of their spouses’ individual assets. Any value above this amount, is then divided between the surviving spouse and any children.

With increasing numbers of individuals changing the ownership of their properties from Joint Tenants to Tenants in Common and with recent increases in property prices, the spouse’s entitlement can be very quickly absorbed. Making a Will allows you to direct as to who should be the beneficiary or beneficiaries of your Estate. If you want to leave everything to your surviving spouse, then you can do so.

A further consideration for making a Will, in spite of marriage, is the position of “blended families”. You may have been previously divorced and have children from the first marriage. If you have no Will, the Rules could mean that the entirety of your Estate passes to your current spouse. The assets then become part of their Estate and they are free to deal or dispose of them, as they wish.

It may be that they then choose to make a Will and decide to leave everything to their children, or they may not make a Will and their estate again follows the Intestacy Rules which do not provide for step-children. This would mean that in both instances, the children of your first marriage would inherit nothing.

Then what would be the situation if the spouse remarried. Your estate could essentially end up being inherited by the new spouse and then they could direct this onto their own family, meaning that none of your children end up receiving an Inheritance from your Estate.

By making a Will, you can ensure that your individual circumstances are accounted for and that upon your death, your Estate will pass to those who you would actually wish to benefit. 

For assistance, please contact a member of Dixon Rigby Keogh Solicitors Private Client Team; Simon Masters, Emma Rigby, Mark Darlington and Bernadette Emmett. Our firm has three offices across Cheshire, located in Northwich Tel: 01606 48111, Winsford Tel: 01606 557211 and Sandbach Tel: 01270 766550.