Dying intestate

The Cost of Dying Intestate

It’s a common question; what exactly is the cost of dying intestate? What harm will it really do to you family, my loved ones, those who care about me? Because, for many, it feels as though it does no harm at all to leave no will and to die ‘intestate’. After all, everything will just go to your next of kin, right?

The Cost of Dying Intestate 300x199 The Cost of Dying Intestate

Not necessarily. And don’t forget – it’s not just about the possessions, assets, and cash that you leave behind. It’s about the debts and the payments too. They don’t stop being owed just because you’ve passed away. And if your next of kin gets everything, they’ll get that too.

Firstly, when someone dies without a will they must hire a solicitor to deal with probate. This can take a long time, and be costly. All banks and utility companies need to be contacted and, if family members are up for doing this themselves, they can save a fair bit of money – but it’s an emotional thing to have to do.

There will be demands. Utility companies will send out letters regarding non-payment, and these letters may not be received. So more letters will be sent out until it gets to the stage where family members are having to explain – again – that their loved one has died and that no one is in the property, for example. At this point, the only way to deter some companies is to pay what is owed, which could be hundreds or thousands of pounds. So that’s a definitely, tangible cost on top of the emotional upheaval. At least the court case will be dropped.

But of course, after that comes the next bill – perhaps an estimated one, perhaps for the next few months. Another phone call explaining. Another plea for the automatic letters and calculations to be switched off. Hopefully they will be this time.

Will the banks give you time 300x199 The Cost of Dying Intestate

Now, what about the mortgage? Mortgage companies can’t talk to just anyone about specific cases, and in order to make any changes you will need to be an administrator (requiring a grant of administration, which allows a living person to act on the behalf of a dead person). But that can take an age without a will, and during that time late payments and penalties will be stacking up. And even if you are able to make the mortgage company aware of what has happened, and perhaps they’ll make notes on their system, they may still send out repossession letters, which is frightening and unnecessary.

Still not sure it’s worth the bother of writing a will? Would your family agree? 

What are the probate laws for dying intestate?

Dying intestate means without having made a valid will.  Under these circumstances the Estate will then be divided up and distributed according to the English laws of probate.  This is known as “intestacy”.

It is never advisable to avoid preparing a will until you retire, or indeed not at all, as the Probate Office may then divide up your Estate in a way in which you would not have approved.  For instance, you may have had a disagreement with a brother or sister and not spoken for years.  If you have remarried, your children may receive nothing, or in the worst case scenario, if no blood relatives exist, your entire life savings and property may become the property of the Crown.

So where would your assets and savings go should you die right now, without having prepared a will?

If either of your parents is alive, they will inherit your Estate.  Should they both be deceased, then your full brothers and sisters or half brothers and sisters will be the next in line for inheritance.  If you were an only child, your grandparents if they are alive would be beneficiaries if you had no surviving parents and if this was not the case then the line would pass down to full uncles and aunts, half uncles and aunts until finally, the Probate Office would concede that no blood relatives were in existence, and the proceeds of your Estate would pass to the Crown.

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