ROCK star Prince died without making a Will. He wasn't the only one. A YouGov survey suggests that nearly two thirds of British adults die without leaving a Will. While a new Citizens Advice report shows that enquires about the number of people making enquiries about relatives and friends who died intestate has more than doubled over the last five years...
Why does this matter? Simply because if you die without having made a valid Will you have no say about how your money, possessions and property are divvied up.
There are rules in place that determine who gets what you leave behind — and odds are your stuff won't be split the way you would have wanted it to be.
If you are living with someone you're not married to, or haven't registered a civil partnership with, then they can't inherit from you (or vice versa) unless there is a Will.
If you have no surviving relatives and had planned to leave everything to Battersea Dogs Home, say, then you need to make a Will because otherwise your entire estate passes to the Crown...
It can cause a heck of a mess, not to mention much unnecessary stress for the people you love.
Take the case of Brian (surname withheld by request), who administered his cousin Peter's estate. Peter died intestate leaving property, possessions and savings worth about £700,000.
It took two long years and several thousand pounds to sort out and ended with Peter's stuff being split between 17 people, some of whom he'd never met.
They also had to pay an eye-watering sum, nearly a quarter of a million pounds, in inheritance tax.
Someone close to me had a distressing time when his father died without leaving a Will. His parents had always promised him the family home would be his when they passed. But when his mum died, his dad took off (with indecent haste, some felt) with an attractive, much younger (and married) French woman from over the road.
The father sold the family home and bought a bungalow in Kent. He died long before his new love who quietly sold up and decamped back to the bowels of Bourgogne. The dad had never put his promises to the son in writing and all of the inheritance ended up eventually in the hands of the French woman's daughter. A cautionary tale.
The message is clear: if you make a Will then you can give your stuff to who you want to have it — your family, friends and charities. A Will also reduces the burden on your next of kin and allows you to manage how much inheritance tax you pay.
But if you don't make a Will then, when you leave us, your house, your savings and everything you own will be divided up for you and the state will take a much larger chunk of everything you've worked and saved for (and already paid tax on).
If you want your final wishes to be heeded and to free your grieving loved ones of financial stress then MAKE A WILL.
Garry Bushell, April 2017