New research has found that 51% of UK adults are expecting an inheritance at some point in their life, from a close friend or relative.
This could lead to many people being in for a shock when that close friend or relative passes away, due to many UK residents not having a valid will in place.
Why do people assume they are receiving an inheritance?
The reasons for people expecting an inheritance differ from case to case. For example, a third of those surveyed said that they had been verbally told by a loved one they are a Beneficiary of their will, so assume on this basis they will receive an inheritance. However, only 12% of those surveyed had actually seen evidence of this in the form a will.
A quarter of those surveyed stated that they assume they are receiving some form of an inheritance due to simply being the next of kin, not knowing that this is not guaranteed.
What will people spend their inheritance on?
Interestingly, the people surveyed were not worried with the notion of them not receiving the inheritance, as they were already spending the money in their heads. Regardless of any assurances, they said they would spend the money received on the following:
- 27% of people are putting it into savings
- 22% of people plan to invest it
- 20% of people don’t know
- 15% of people plan to pass it to children or grandchildren/pay of their mortgage/go on holiday
- 14% of people will use it for home improvements
Amazingly, 4% of those expecting an inheritance said that they had already spent it, despite the fact it had not yet been given to them. It is easy to see why this could turn into a very tricky situation for many if they were to hit an unexpected snag.
Inheritance where there is no will
Another study has shown that two in three UK residents, including 42% of over 55s, do not have a will. Where there isn't a will, there isn't a way to ensure your inheritance will be divided according to your wishes.
When a person dies without leaving a valid will, their property (the estate) must be shared out according to certain rules. These are called the rules of intestacy. A person who dies without leaving a will is called an intestate person.
The rules of intestacy follow a hierarchy of who should benefit from the estate. This order is as follows:
- Spouse or civil partner
- Brothers and sisters
- Uncles and aunts
The highest existing and surviving relative will take priority. Clearly, this may not be an ideal situation for the deceased or the close friend/relative who is assuming they are receiving an inheritance.
In addition to this, in the event someone does make a will but it is not legally valid, the rules of intestacy decide how the estate will be shared out, not the wishes expressed in the will.
Official guidance from the Government recommends that people review their will every five years and/or after any major life change (such as the birth of a child, a marriage, a divorce). This is to ensure that your wishes are followed correctly once you pass away and the will is not disputed.
We are seeing an increase in people assuming they are going to receive something after their relative or close friend has passes away. Without a will noting down these wishes, it can become very complicated and stressful for those involved.
We hope that getting a legally valid will in place is something that will be in people’s minds moving forward.
How Percy Hughes & Roberts can help
At Percy Hughes & Roberts Solicitors, we have a team of dedicated wills, trusts and probate solicitors who are ready to help you resolve your query or issue relating to inheritance as quickly and effectively as possible.
Our wills, trusts and probate solicitors have a wealth of experience in assisting people with writing a new will so that their inheritance goes to the places they wish it to.