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What happens if I die without a will?

Many people write a will before they pass away, ensuring that their most prized and valuable possessions and assets are left to their loved ones. But what happens if you die without a will?

If you do not have a will in place at the time of your passing, your wealth, property and possessions fall under the law of intestacy. 

Intestacy follows a hierarchical structure, with those deemed closest to you by law inheriting your estate. If that party does not exist, then it goes down the chain.

This, of course, does not take into account any personal factors such as how close you are to more distant family members. Therefore, it’s always advisable to have something in place to ensure the distribution of the estate runs as smoothly as possible.

Exactly how everything is portioned up depends on numerous factors. The first of which is if you are married, or in a civil union. Should this be the case, then everything will go to your legal partner, even if you are technically separated.

This changes if you have children. In this instance, the legal partner receives up to £270,000 of the estate, and half of everything after that, with the rest being split between the remaining offspring.

If there are no children or legal partners, the line of succession goes to the deceased’s parents, and if they are no longer alive, to their siblings.

Should none of the above be alive or eligible, the estate reverts to the crown.

You should remember that a will is completely separate from life insurance. Whereas a will ensures that your estate is distributed as per your wishes, a life insurance policy covers your loss of income or any outstanding debts you have. 

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