It has been estimated that more than 4 in ten adults don’t have a Will. This is a WILD underestimate when you include the Wills which are lost, stolen, accidentally cancelled or so far out of date as to be irrelevant to current family circumstances.
It is the authors personal concern that the Law Commission review of the Last Will Rules does not follow the path set by the recent innovations in Lasting Powers of Attorney, which seem to have been designed to encourage fraud. Let us hope that common sense will prevail, though we are unlikely to know before 2018.
Where there is no valid Last Will in place, the Rules of Intestacy apply, and you get into the nightmare scenario of Court action being needed under the The Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependents) Act 1975. This is a real area of danger as the sort of thinking applied to LPAs could bring a flood of claims from flat mates and all sorts of hangers on.
Under the Rules of Intestacy, only direct family can benefit, and this includes divorcing spouses, but excludes a partner you have lived with for 40 years and had children with but never legally married or formed a legal civil partnership.
Another major issue is who can make a Last Will – in terms of their mental ability, especially as people are taking a lot longer to fade away in their old age these days. And sadly a good proportion of people are not really “with it” all the time. The rules relating to Wills and the ability to make a valid Will date back to not last century, but the one before with the main Wills Act dating from 1837.
We thoroughly approve of a review of the Law relating to Wills, but do hope it will be conducted by folk with their feet on the ground and not too strongly influenced by pressure from powerful groups with their own agendas. Minority groups are important, and their interests should be protected, but not at the expense of damaging the interests of the community as a whole.
If your own Legal Planning is not up to date, we offer a full (paid) Legal Planning Service, so please get in touch. Last Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Trusts, Inheritance3 Tax planning are all avaialble.