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What happens if I don't have a Will?

What happens if I don't have a Will?

It might not be something you want to think of, but everyone should have a Will, irrespective of age or financial position. Without one, you are leaving it up to the law to decide what happens to your estate when you die and how your money, property or possessions should be allocated – and this may not be in line with your wishes.

There are a variety of reasons why you should have a Will, including:

·      Making a will can help protect your loved ones after you die – in particular if you have children or dependents. Without a Will stating exactly how your estate (your money, possessions and property) is passed on, your loved ones may not be protected.

·      There is no such thing as a common law wife or husband in Scots law, therefore unmarried couples are not entitled to anything in your estate unless specifically stated in your Will – irrespective of how long you have been together. You may be able to make a claim against the estate, however there are strict requirements for what will be an expensive Court action.

·      Non-traditional families are common today and structures can be complex, especially if you have remarried and have children from previous relationships. Despite what you may have discussed with your family and partner, without having a Will the right people may not be protected.

·      If you die without a Will (i.e. intestate), the courts will have to appoint an executor (the person who is responsible for dealing with the administration of the estate) which can be expensive and a lengthy process.

·      It may be possible to reduce the amount of tax payable on the inheritance if advice is taken in advance and a Will is made

Although legislation does allow for certain beneficiaries (in particular specific family members) to claim from a deceased person's estate even if they have died without making a Will, it is not straightforward. Court action is expensive, the rules are complex, and there are limits to the amount even a widower can inherit this way.

Even if you don’t think you have much to account for it is important to make a Will and to think about your loved ones. Without a Will, administering your estate will be lengthy and more costly, causing your family further stress and expense at an already difficult time.