More than 15,000 Scottish estates dating back as far as 1978 have yet to be claimed because the owners failed to make a Will.
Anyone who dies without a Will – known as dying intestate – and with no traceable relatives has their financial affairs handled by the Government Legal Department in England and Wales or The Office of Queen’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer (QLTR) in Scotland.
If there are living relatives, the inheritance will go to them. But if no one can be found, the money goes straight to the State.
However, making a Will is quick and easy with the help of a lawyer – and can cost as little as £200.
He says it’s important to give thought to the following:
These are formal positions which require to be filled by law. The Estate will normally be wound up by Lawyers but the work must be done in the name of the Executors. They can be family, friends or professionals. Very often the Executor will be your Lawyer.
2) The Residue
This is typically the last clause which deals with the distribution of your Estate but since it is normally the most important part it is worth considering first. The Residue is absolutely everything you leave on death after debts and funerals expenses, Specific Bequests and Pecuniary Legacies (these are explained below) have been dealt with. Very often the Residue will pass to the main beneficiaries e.g. spouse, children or other person or body and it may be necessary to decide in what shares you wish the Residue to be divided. If your Estate is likely to be over the IHT threshold you will need the combined advice not only of one of our specialist lawyers, but also one of our experienced financial advisers.
3) Specific Bequests
This part covers any items of property you may wish to leave to any specific person or persons. These will normally be individual items of significant value either monetary or, more usually, sentimental value.
4) Pecuniary Legacies
Apart from the share of your Estate which your beneficiaries may receive from the Residue, do you wish to leave any sums of money to any particular person, body or charity etc? It may well be appropriate to leave legacies to children or grandchildren at this point in the Will but again your Lawyer can advise.
5) Funeral Directions
Not essential but recommended for the peace of mind of yourself or those you leave behind.
Mr Considine added: “Clearly, making a Will does not have to be complicated – certainly not compared to intestate succession. That’s the whole point.
“With proper legal advice the whole process can be made relatively simple and you can have a Will which accurately reflects your wishes, plans for Inheritance Tax and protects your beneficiaries.”