Intestate cases with no surviving spouses or children

reading time 3 minutes

Here at Finders International, we often deal with the estates of people who have died intestate and who don’t have children.

Writing a will can seem like a lengthy and expensive process to carry out – and if you are married, you might assume that your estate automatically goes to your spouse after you die. However, it is still advisable to write a will to make sure that your wishes are carried out.

If you are not married, but you live with your partner it’s even more important to have a will as an unmarried partner may not receive any of your estate if there is no will that specifically leaves something to them.

And if you are not married and you have no children, then your estate could pass to your brothers or sisters or even your parents. This might mean that your parents’ estate is larger than they had planned for and it might then incur an unexpected tax bill when they die. And if no immediate or distant relatives are traced, then the estate can end up being passed to the government legal department acting for the Crown.

If you do not have children, it is important to discuss with your spouse or partner what you want to happen when both of you die. If you die first, then presumably your will shall state that your partner or spouse inherits the bulk of your estate. When your spouse or partner dies, then who will inherit your combined estates? You might want to ensure that your blood line family (your nieces and nephews, for example) inherit a share.

Remember too that at present leaving money to nieces and nephews does not qualify for the higher exemption rate for the inheritance tax threshold, so you will need to bear this in mind if you are planning to leave money to your siblings’ children.

On the other hand, both of you might feel that the money should go to a good cause, such as a charity or local organisation that you have both been involved in. Many charities provide free will writing services for people who agree to leave a donation in their will to that charity, and you can also get a will written in exchange for a donation to the charity Will Aid if you can find a solicitor or will writer who is part of that scheme.

And if you want to leave money to non-family members, it’s crucial that you have an up-to-date valid will that sets out your wishes so that your friend does not miss out.

If you don’t have children, but you do have step-children, remember that step-children have no automatic right of inheritance if there is no will, unless they have been legally adopted.

It is human nature to put off doing things we don’t like to do, or that force us to confront our mortality, but writing a will is important whatever your circumstances are and making a will means that you are taking a thoughtful, considered and caring approach to your spouse, extended family and friends.