No one wants to think about his or her own mortality, but you never know what’s around the corner. And the last thing you want to do, when your loved ones are mourning you, is leave them with a tangled financial mess because you died without a will. Frances Kelly, solicitor at Tallents, Newark, Notts   Says Frances Kelly, solicitor at Tallents in Newark:

“Without a doubt a will is the single most important piece of paper anyone will ever sign in their life. It tidies up a person’s life, makes clear their last wishes, and in many ways, gives an enormous about of comfort to the people left behind.

“A will doesn’t have to be a scary or complicated document and, with the right legal advice, it can be completed with very little stress and cost.”

Frances continues:

“During everyone’s lives there are several key life stages when one should either make a will, or consider reviewing an existing will: buying a property, marriage, the birth of children, divorce or separation, remarriage, the birth of grandchildren or critical illness. These events will all have a ‘knock on’ effect to the individual’s immediate family, and could cause major complications in the event of an unexpected death. And as people’s family structures become ever more complicated a will becomes even more vital to bring clarity at an emotional time.”

She explains:

“Dying without leaving a will, also known as dying intestate, could mean that the government gets to decide who gets what from your estate, depending on your domestic circumstances.”

Married with children (separated people are treated under these rules as still being married)

Your spouse gets:

    1. 1. Car and house contents, plus
    2. 2. First £250,000 of your estate, plus
    3. 3. Interest on half of any surplus (only interest, your spouse cannot touch the capital)

Your children get (but stepchildren get nothing):

    1. 1. Half of any excess over £250,000 outright, plus
    2. 2. The other half of the excess when your spouse has also died
Married with no children but with parents and/or brothers and sisters

Your spouse gets:

    1. 1. Car and house contents, plus
    2. 2. First £450,000 of your estate, plus
    3. 3. Half of any excess over £450,000 outright

Your parents or, if none are alive, your brothers and sisters get:

    1. 1. Balance i.e. half of any excess over £450,000 outright
Married with no children and no parents, or brothers and sisters

Your spouse gets everything.

Single, widowed or divorced (but not separated)

There’s a set order in which your estate will be distributed: everything goes to your children, otherwise to your parents (if alive), otherwise to your brothers and sisters, or their surviving children, otherwise your grandparents (if alive), otherwise your uncles and aunts, or their surviving children. If there are no family members, then everything you’ve worked for your whole life will go to the government.

Frances finishes:

“I’ve been a solicitor for over 30 years and during that time I’ve been privileged to help many people achieve exactly what they want to happen after their death with a signed will.

“It makes me so sad that people don’t set aside the time to make this very important document for the sake of their loved ones. Speak to Tallents today and we can help ensure that your last wishes will be carried out.”

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