Family Matters (Intestacy)

Intestacy: is it really that bad?

We often read about people in the press discussing the virtues of making a Will in order to be proactive, choose the people we would like to benefit from our death and to ensure our estates are as tax efficient as possible. But what is the alternative if we die without having made a Will?

Intestacy laws, which are laid down in legislation, govern the distribution of the estate of any person who dies without leaving a Will.

Are the intestacy laws always a bad thing?

The intestacy laws are there to protect the needs of beneficiaries following somebody’s death and therefore have been carefully considered by the government to cover the average family needs. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as an ‘average family’.

In this day and age of complex family structures, high divorce rates, unmarried partners being ‘the norm’, and blended families with children from multiple partnerships, it would be impossible for the intestacy laws to cover all situations. Currently, the intestacy laws are appropriate in a small number of very simple family structures. Even so, if the family is of higher than average wealth, the intestacy laws do not take into account any planning opportunities and may not even provide adequately for the surviving spouse.


Considering that the intestacy laws in their current form were first introduced in 1925, they have stood the test of time until they were modernised in 2014. Even with the most recent overhaul and the increasing values over the years, it is still in my opinion that on reflection the intestacy laws do not provide benefits for family members in accordance with the majority of peoples wishes.

In conclusion, I believe that it is very important for everybody to make a Will and consider their options on division of their estates on death and, at the very least, to take advice in their personal circumstances on the ramifications of not doing so.

Lindsey Atterbury, Head of Legal.

For help with your Will writing, we have Brian from The Will Writing Company who visits our branches regularly to meet people who have booked appointments.

Call us on 01782 255000 or visit your local branch to book an your appointment.


Brian is an Estate Planning Consultant from The Will Writing Company. The Hanley Economic Building Society acts as an introducer to The Will Writing Company for estate planning services. The Will Writing Company are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) as a licensed body in England and Wales (SRA number 626921). Calls may be recorded for compliance and training purposes. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. JD1806.

The Will Writing Company Limited (registered number 3616406) is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) in England and Wales as a Licensed Body (SRA number 626921). EPG Legal Services Limited is registered in Scotland 536268 and complies with the Institute of Professional Willwriters (IPW) and the institute of Scottish Professional Willwriters (ISPW) code of practice. Client comments are taken from completed IPW questionnaires. The Will Writing Company Limited and EPG Legal Services Limited are subsidiaries of The Estate Planning Group (Holdings) Limited.



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