From a legal perspective, we decided to look at how people with no family or estranged family might feel when it comes to sorting out their affairs. While this can seem a daunting task, the existence of a Will can give peace of mind that you might not even have known you needed.
It is a common misconception that if a person has no family or few assets, there is little or no need to write a Will. In reality, this is not true and it is always important to have a Will in place, perhaps even more so where no immediate family members or obvious beneficiaries exist.
Who gets my estate if I have no spouse or children?
Provided you have a Will in place, you can decide who inherits your estate. If you have a charity which is particularly close to your heart then you may decide to leave your estate to that charity or you may have a friend who you want to include as a beneficiary. A Will can include as many beneficiaries as you desire, so you may decide to leave your estate among numerous charities or individuals in shares which you feel appropriate. In fact, leaving your estate to charity also has benefits for inheritance tax purposes.
Who will administer my estate?
The person who administers an estate, known as an Executor, should be named in the Wil. Therefore, provided you put a Will in place before your death you can decide who will administer your estate. Your Executor does not have to be a family member and you can appoint a friend instead. Alternatively, you can appoint a Solicitor to act as your Executor and here at Harper Macleod, we are always willing to take on this role.
What if I don't write a Will?
If no Will exists then the estate shall be distributed in accordance with the hierarchy set out in the Succession (Scotland) Act 1964. Where a person is estranged from their spouse and children, the laws of intestacy as set out in the Succession (Scotland) Act would still see these relatives inheriting the estate.
If no spouse or children exist then other surviving family members would be sought out as beneficiaries. If no parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, nieces or nephews survive then the estate could pass to cousins and it is not uncommon for genealogists to be instructed to trace very distant family members to inherit the estate.
In the event that no such family members exist, the estate will ultimately pass to the Crown.
Who inherits the estate will also impact who administers the estate. Where no Will exists, the process of appointing an Executor can become protracted and costly, but this can all be avoided by putting in place a Will.
Get in touch
If you wish to put a Will in place or discuss what would happen in your circumstances, please do not hesitate to get in touch with a member of our Private Client team and we will be more than happy to assist:
Elgin: 01343 542623
We have solicitors and offices across the country and are ready to help.
We can provide the assistance you need to protect your assets and your loved ones. This will allow you to put your mind at ease, knowing everything is in hand.