News & Events
Vulnerability to Covid-19 Reinforces Need to Make a Timely Will
- Posted by: curtislegalwp
- Category: News
The Covid-19 pandemic currently ravaging the world has been unprecedented in modern times. The coronavirus that causes Covid-19 targets the elderly and those with conditions that predispose them to infection and symptoms. Residents of care homes have died in their thousands, many not being included in official statistics.
The numbers of infections and fatalities thankfully have now begun to decline markedly, but until an effective vaccine is available or at least an effective cure for the sick, there is always a possibility of a second or even a third wave of infection.
In these troubled times, it has often been left to relatives of those who have died from Covid-19 to sort out what happens to their assets and savings where there has been no obvious will made. In many cases, family members have assumed that their relative had already in fact made provisions for when they passed away, only to discover that they have died intestate.
It can be bad enough to deal with the shock of bereavement and the complications of funerals and grieving under present lockdown restrictions, but this can be made worse when it is discovered that a relative has died intestate.
How intestacy rules work
If someone who dies has not made a will, then basically the government decides who inherits that person’s wealth through the intestacy rules*. These rules have changed somewhat recently and more specifically have changed after February 6th 2020 as they refer to a situation in which there is a surviving spouse or civil partner and dependent children.
Intestacy rules do not allow for inheritance to be passed on to a partner whose relationship with the deceased had no legal status. This means that only spouses or civil partners can be beneficiaries.
Intestacy rules when there are no children but there is a spouse or civil partner: the spouse or civil partner inherits the entire assets of the deceased.
Intestacy rules when there are children but no spouse or civil partner: the assets are divided equally between each of the surviving children. If one of the children has died, then their share is then divided equally between that child’s own children (i.e. the grandchildren of the deceased).
Intestacy rules when there are dependent children as well as a spouse or civil partner: the first £270,000 of assets is given to the spouse or civil partner as well as half of the rest. The other half is divided equally between the surviving children. To give an example, if the value of a deceased’s assets amount to £350,000, and there was a surviving spouse and two children, then the spouse would get £310,000 (£270,000+£40,000) and each child would get £20,000 each.
Intestacy rules when there are no dependent children, spouse or civil partner: the assets would be given to the following beneficiaries in order of priority:
- any surviving parents,
- any full blood siblings, or, if deceased, their children,
- any half blood siblings, or, if deceased, their children,
- any grandparents,
- any uncles or aunts or, if deceased, their children,
- the Crown, or the Duchy if in Cornwall or Lancashire.
If there is one thing that the current pandemic has told us about dying, it is that it is important to make a will well before there is a chance of death, at the very least to provide peace of mind for those who are left to sort out one’s affairs after one dies. Don’t let making a will be the last thing on your mind – contact the Wills and Probate lawyer at Curtis Legal Ltd. Call for an appointment at 01600 77 22 88.
*The intestacy rules given here are specifically for England and Wales. Scotland and Northern Ireland have similar, although not exactly the same rules.