Intestacy: a lesson in anatomy

Pop quiz

Right then: pay attention. We’ll start with a quick test.

Which of the following correctly defines ‘intestate’?

(a) an American motorway

(b) part of your stomach

(c) how you describe someone who dies without a will

The answer is (c). You knew that. And if you chose anything else, then we (politely) suggest that you have more faith in our editorial talents.

An American motorway is of course an interstate. The only connection with ‘intestate’ is that both may be directions you wouldn’t want to take.

The part of your anatomy we tried to confuse you with is your intestine. And your stomach has little in common with intestacy, except to say that it isn’t good for either of them to grow too much.

Intestacy – a growing problem

Here are two facts for you. First, around two thirds of the hundreds of thousands of people who die each year in the UK leave no will. And secondly, for the last few years, the mortality rate in this country has been rising.

So it should be no surprise that in May 2016 the BBC reported a steady increase in the number of inquiries about people who had died without a will. No surprise, as we said, but something of a worry.

Judging by the amount of advertising in both static and broadcast media, it would appear that solicitors, will-writers, tax advisors and other professionals have been jumping up and down about this: partly with concern at the numbers of people who have not planned effectively for their own death; and partly, no doubt, at the untapped opportunity for exercising their professional skills.

It’s possible that one reason for the increase in inquiries about intestacy is that more people are choosing to administer estates themselves - and therefore need support – rather than hand over administration to professionals and pay a potentially substantial fee. But even allowing for that, we can’t ignore the fact that far too many people die without making a will. 

You can find out more about the consequences of intestacy on our page Avoiding intestacy.

No will = No control

All the professionals are saying it – and they’re all absolutely right. We should all make wills, for all sorts of reasons. From the many positive benefits, like ensuring that your assets pass to who you want in the way you want, to avoiding many pitfalls – such as trying to arrange it so that as little as possible goes to the tax man. You can read all about it here

And it doesn’t have to cost you anything. Really. Click the button at the top of the page and make your will for free.