A guest article by Simpson Sissons & Brooke Solicitors in Sheffield, England.
In 2011, researchers found that over two thirds of people do not make a will. They do not appoint their assets to anyone, leaving the government to manage their affairs. If someone has not made a will it can often cause huge arguments in a family over who is entitled to what, especially if there is a lot of money and property to be divided between several people. Making a will can be a very simple process so it is surprising that each year there are still hundreds of thousands of people who must decide what happens to an estate when someone has died, particularly if they have died unexpectedly.
A person should always make sure they appoint a lasting power of attorney in case they suffer an accident or fall ill so there is someone they trust making decisions for them instead of potentially relying on a stranger to do the right thing. If a person has not made a lasting power of attorney and that person loses their memory or becomes seriously ill, there will not be an appointed person to make decisions for them.
If a will has not been made then the probate office will appoint a representative to be an executor. The probate registry rules state that a person’s spouse should be appointed as the personal representative if they are able and willing to do so. If they are not able to, then the job will fall to the children of the deceased person. The children will be in charge of dividing the assets and paying off any debts that the deceased has left behind. In the event that neither the spouse nor the children are able or willing to be in charge, another relative or close friend will be appointed by the probate office to handle the affairs of the deceased person.
By making a will, a person can decide what they want to do with their assets and who they want to be in charge of them. They can decide who should get what and do what they think is fair for everyone. Although responsibility is likely to fall to someone close to them even if they have not made a will, the process is made much simpler for their spouse or children if they have already created a will and they can simply follow the instructions instead of worrying about the right thing to do.