Homeowners—what happens if you don’t have a Will?

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According to the insurance company Royal London, two in five homeowners do not have a Will. What happens to their home if they die? It might not pass on to the person they want.

As we at Finders International know too well, dying intestate can make administering an estate much more complicated for those left behind.

There are various reasons why people do not make a Will. Royal London found that one in five people had resisted making a Will because they did not think they had enough of value to pass on. But of those people, one in six of them owned a property—which is always going to be worth something.

Old homeowners without a Will

The company’s research also revealed that there was a substantial number of older homeowners who did not have Wills. Of those surveyed who were over 55, 16 percent owned their home with or without a mortgage.

Other reasons given for not having a Will include indecision over who should benefit. Or who people wanted to act as the executor or trustee, stating this as the most difficult part of Will writing.

But dying without leaving a valid Will means your estate and property is subject to the laws of intestacy and, depending on your circumstances, this might mean the people you wanted to receive a share of your estate don’t.

Updating a Will when you marry

In England and Wales, a Will needs to be updated as soon as you marry otherwise it is invalid. If your partner dies intestate, this will matter far more if the two of you were not married. The surviving partner does not have the automatic right to inherit under the intestacy rules. If you have any children, they inherit in intestate cases.

And if you have no spouse or children, your estate is passed to other relatives. For those who did not have a good relationship with their siblings, that might mean those siblings benefiting. And if it takes time to trace the beneficiaries down, the property might deteriorate or be at risk of being broken into.

If you jointly own a property with someone, this will depend if you are tenants in common or joint tenants. If you are tenants in common, your share of the house goes to the beneficiaries named in your Will. Without a Will, the rules of intestacy apply.

Dealing with overseas properties

For joint tenants, the property goes automatically to the surviving owner. If you own a property abroad, it will depend on the law in that country as to what happens to the property when you die.

Dealing with property sales in other countries can be a long, drawn out and expensive process, so it is best to use experts who have years of experience dealing with different jurisdictions such as Finders International. Our company has an international assets service you can use to liquidate, dispose of and return value to an estate. Contact us on +44 (0)20 7490 4935 to find out more; alternatively visit our website to view our services.