HM Insights

Dying without making a Will can lead to family feuds, recent survey suggests

A recent study carried out by Macmillan Cancer Support indicated that more than one million people in the UK have argued with family members following a relative dying without making a Will.

Almost 1 in 5 of these feuds has resulted in family members no longer speaking with one another. Many feuds can arise from a misunderstanding of how an estate is distributed on death and the study indicated that more than a third of people questioned have promised an item to a loved one but not included this in their Will; this will likely lead to the number of family arguments increasing in the future.

Macmillan Cancer Support's survey found that 59% of the people interviewed had not made a Will. Understandably, many people would rather delay thinking about putting in place a Will until 'another time'. The task invariably ends up far down the never ending 'to do' list everyone has to manage on top of their work and family commitments.

The importance of making a Will – how is an estate divided?

The importance of putting in place a Will however, cannot be underestimated. Without a Will, the distribution of an estate depends upon the make up of the surviving family members.

For instance, if someone were to die without a Will survived by their spouse, their parents and siblings but with no children of their own, most would be surprised to learn that their spouse does not automatically inherit everything. In fact, their spouse would only be entitled to a financial limit set by legislation and everything else would be inherited by the deceased's parents and siblings. This may result in assets passing to family that you wouldn't have chosen to inherit.

Making a Will needn't be an expensive or complex task and can avoid heartache and family disagreements among the extended family at an already stressful time.

You can find out more about the benefits of making a Will here.