I have been struck this month by the story featured in The Independent of the funeral of World War Two veteran Harold Percival who died in October, aged 99, having never married nor had children. Mr Percival was described as being a very private person, who did not seem to forge long lasting relationships with anyone. In the event, an appeal went out in the local media for mourners and this appeal was picked up on social media and ultimately promoted by celebrity comedian, Jason Manford, among others. This resulted in over 200 mourners, whom Percival had never met, attending the funeral to show respect for a man who had no family to attend the service.
My initial thoughts were that I felt heartened by the response of the general public. I also thought about the power of technology, social media and celebrity status, three products of the modern age which are often on the receiving end of negative press.
It wasn’t long though before my mind turned to the issues I deal with every day and I couldn’t help but wonder whether Mr Percival had left a Will. He is the classic example of a person who, having not had a family, might, over the course of nearly 100 years, accrued a sizeable estate. However, if he has died without a Will, his estate would pass to the crown in the absence of any family.
So many people delay making a Will or decide that they “don’t need one.” However, when asked if they know exactly what will happen to their home, savings, investments and belongings after their death, the majority of these people say they don’t, really know. The reality is that most people are not aware that the government has effectively drawn up a “List” of people who will inherit your estate after your death, if you die without a Will. This “List” is called the Rules of Intestacy and does not include an unmarried partner, step children, step-parents, children who have been fostered and many more, despite how close we may be to these people. ” It will not include gifts to those who have supported you such as neighbours, best friends and those related to you through marriage.
Therefore, unless you have studied the Rules of Intestacy carefully and you are sure that those named in the “List” are those you would choose to inherit, you are not safe to delay the making of a Will any longer.
Dying without a Will not only means that you have allowed the state to decide who gets your hard earned money but, if you have no one on the “List” then you have allowed the state to inherit it all. If there is a person dear to you who deserves a gift after your days, remember: “If they’re not on the List, they’re not getting in” but “where there’s a Will there’s a Way!”
If you would like advice about drawing up a Will please contact me by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 029 2000 3916