The Times newspaper has published research carried out by lawyers which shows that £38.5m flowed into the Treasury coffers last year from the estates of people who died without a will or an heir. That was a rise of 91% on the year before.

The reason for the sudden rise is uncertain. Researchers believe that many people mistakenly feel their assets are so small that they don’t need to make a will. It could also be that as the pace of modern life increases, some people never get round to contacting their solicitor to make the arrangements.

If you die intestate – that is, without having made a will – your estate is divided up in a way laid down by law. This means that your assets will be divided between your family and relatives. Some of your money could therefore go to people you may not like, while those you do care about may get little or nothing at all.

If no surviving heirs can be found, your estate will usually pass to the Treasury.

Few people would want to see their life savings passed on in this way, yet research by the Legal Services Commission suggests one in six people in the UK die intestate.

The best way to ensure your wealth goes to people of your choosing is to make a will and keep it up to date. You should also remember that your will may need to be amended as your circumstances change, such as when you marry, cohabit, have children or divorce.

Please contact us if you would like more information about wills and probate.

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