If you die without a Will any assets you have on death will be administered under the Rules of Intestacy. These rules have been updated to reflect the changing value of money in the modern world. Different circumstances arise for whether you are married or not.
If you are married with no children your spouse will receive your entire estate. If you have no surviving spouse and no children your assets could pass to your parents or siblings.
If you are married with children your spouse will receive a fixed legacy (an amount set down in law that changes from time to time) and half of the remainder of your estate. The remaining half will pass to your children when they reach eighteen.
Legislation has not gone far enough as co-habiting couples are still not entitled to receive anything from the estate of their partner and would have to apply to the court for provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 which can be a costly and unrewarding venture.
The Rules of Intestacy do not allow for sensible planning to prevent assets from passing to children at an age at which they cannot manage money, or to accommodate wishes with a second marriage, or prevent assets from passing to parents who already have tax liabilities of their own.
The Rules of Intestacy are far from satisfactory but can be avoided by signing a Will and sensible planning.
Contact us to discuss your wishes further.