Most people are aware that a will is an important document, setting out how an individual’s assets are to be distributed on their death. Despite this, many people have not yet signed a will (or have failed to update their last will since a material change in circumstances).
If no will is made then the statutory rules of intestacy apply. These rules govern who benefits from an estate where there is no will. The rules are different depending on whether the individual leaves a spouse or surviving children. In the simplest scenario of a person dying with a spouse and children then the general rule is that the spouse will receive:
- All personal chattels absolutely.
- The first £250,000 in the estate.
- Any other assets are divided in two – one half is held on trust for life for the spouse and the other half is held for children.
If a person dies with a spouse, but no children or other issue then the entire estate is held outright for the spouse.
If a person dies without a spouse or children, assets will pass to family members in accordance with statutory rules.
The intestacy rules mean that a business could be inherited by a family member who has no (or limited) knowledge of it and, at a difficult time, dealing with running a business may be very time-consuming. Depending on the value of the business and the make up of the individual’s family, the ownership of the business could be split between, for example, the individual’s siblings, or the individual’s spouse and children. This can cause difficulties in the running of the business and between the family members involved.
By signing an appropriately drafted will, an individual can make clear which assets should be inherited by which people and can allow for a distinction between personal assets and business assets. It may also be possible to minimise any potential inheritance tax liability.
The cost of making a will varies depending on the circumstances and wishes of each person. Many clients make simple wills where the total costs might be no more than £250 plus VAT. Other wills may be more time-consuming to prepare and in which case the charges will obviously rise. Advice can be given in particular circumstances as to how much the likely costs might be.
If you would like more information or to discuss matters generally then please contact any one of the persons named below who will be able to help.
Edward Cursham (Nottingham office) – 0115 947 1512
Laura Clark (Nottingham office) – 0115 947 1533
Bharbage Singh (Nottingham office) – 0115 947 1504
Andrew Ready (Radcliffe on Trent office) – 0115 933 1811
Joanne Buckley (Bingham office) – 01949 830 803
Kirstin Thompson (Bingham office) – 01949 830 815