What happens if you don’t make a will?

60% of adults in the UK don’t have a will, meaning each year, thousands of us leave it to the law to decide what should happen to our life’s savings. This is despite the fact that making a will is easy – especially now that it can be done inexpensively online, instead of in a dusty solicitor’s office.

So what happens to the estates of people who leave life without having made their wishes clear? Let’s take a look.

Who inherits my stuff?

When you die without a will, you don’t have any control over who will get your money, property, assets and belongings when you die. Instead, the laws of intestacy will decide who should inherit your estate.

These rules give priority to your closest relative, with spouses getting top billing. After that, it’s children, parents, siblings, and so on.

Infographic courtesy of, the online will service

Now, that might sound fine – but these laws can cause big problems.

Your heirs may have to sell your home or belongings to split the estate fairly; this could leave your partner without anywhere to live. You’ll have no say in who gets what item, encouraging potential bitter disputes about who really deserves certain family heirlooms. If your spouse remarries, their new partner could inherit their estate and yours into the bargain, disinheriting your kids.

There are also unfortunate loopholes. Unmarried partners, step-children and foster children aren’t recognised, even if you see them as family. If you’re separated but not divorced, your dreaded ex can still inherit. And if you don’t have any relatives … well, the Crown gets to keep everything!

Ready to make a will? For £45, you can make a will online in the comfort of your own home. Just go to and use the code SILVERSURF50 at checkout.

What about tax?

With house prices higher now than ever before, more and more families are paying inheritance tax each year. The tax, which takes 40% of the estate over the threshold, can lead to a substantial bill. Especially if you don’t have a will.

Why? Anything you leave to your spouse (or civil partner) is exempt from inheritance tax. With a will, you can leave just enough to your spouse to skip the inheritance tax bill, and still (if you like) split the rest between other beneficiaries. Without one, the amount your partner can inherit is capped below the IHT threshold.

If you’re not married or you’re widowed, you can still reduce your inheritance tax bill with a will. All you need to do is leave 10% of the estate to charity. This brings the tax rate down to 36%.

Who’s in charge?

When you die, someone needs to pay your debts, close your accounts, transfer your wealth and generally tie up all the loose ends of your life. It can be a gruelling task, and it’s best suited to the very organised.

If you write a will, you can pick one to four executors to do this for you. Without one, the job falls to your closest relatives. This can work out fine, but it’s a lot of responsibility: settling an estate takes 9-12 months, and your family member will be liable for any mistakes they make. While some people like the distraction, the task can be very stressful for someone who is grieving.

Any other reasons to make a will?

Research shows that when there’s no will, families miss out on £9,700 on average in lost assets.

Why? A will is about more than just controlling who should get what. It also explains what your assets are and where to find them. This saves your loved ones hours of struggling through your paperwork trying to figure out how to settle your affairs. And it keeps them from missing things.

Make a will today for just £45

Want to protect your family and make a will today? It’s never been easier. At Beyond, you can make a legally-binding will online in just 15 minutes. And they’re offering 50% off to Silversurfers readers: get a single will for just £45 or two partner wills for £67.50. Just use the offer code SILVERSURF50 at checkout to enjoy this discount.


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