When drafting your Will inevitably the most important decision is who will benefit from your assets. Most people will have a clear idea on the beneficiary of their estate at the point of drafting a Will. But many fail to consider what may happen should their desired beneficiary die before them.
On the death of the testator, the Executors of the Will must identify the beneficiary and contact them regarding their inheritance. Most Wills stipulate a certain time period in which the beneficiary must survive in order to benefit, i.e ‘I give my residuary estate to X subject to him surviving me by 30 days’ but what happens if that beneficiary died months or years before and there are no further instructions in the Will?
Under such circumstances the estate is said to fall to partial intestacy. Most people commonly understand intestacy to mean that there is no Will in existence, but even where a valid Will exists which fails to or does not properly dispose of the estate then the assets must still be distributed in accordance with the rules of intestacy.
This can cause problems if there are no immediate family members. The Executors must then begin the process of searching for the person(s) entitled to the assets and this can prove extremely time consuming and difficult. Some firms will be able to undertake this research on your behalf but it is not uncommon for such firms to charge in excess of 25% of the estate for doing so.
All the above can be easily avoided by simply including a ‘Further Gift of Residue’ clause in your Will. You can then specify who should inherit your assets in the event that your desired beneficiary has already died and you can rest assured that your wishes will take place. You can also provide multiple further gifts which will further help you to control the eventual distribution of your estate.
For more information regarding drafting a Will and choosing your beneficiaries then please contact the Society of Will Writers.