Q: This is a purely hypothetical question, but I am hoping your answer will encourage my husband to make a Will. Our marriage is a second one for both of us. I have a daughter from my first marriage, and we later had another daughter together. Both girls live with us. My husband seems to think that if anything happened to one of us, the surviving spouse would automatically inherit the estate of the deceased spouse and the girls would eventually inherit equally when the surviving spouse died. But my question is, what would happen if we died together in a car crash?
A: There are several different scenarios that could evolve if one or both of you died intestate, but let’s look at the most obvious one. Without a Will, provided you are married to the deceased and their estate is not worth more than £270,000 you would be entitled to inherit everything. This does not include joint assets which, unless specific arrangements have been made, pass by survivorship. If the deceased’s solely owned estate is worth more than £270,000, the law states that their children are entitled to receive half of the remaining estate above the £270,000 threshold, with the other 50% going to the surviving spouse. So depending which of you died first, your daughter could potentially lose out if your husband died without leaving a Will.
Regarding your question about what would happen if you and your husband died together in a car crash. This could cause very serious problems indeed, because it would depend on which of you actually died first, and that it something that may never be known. If times of death were unknown, the law could apply something called the commorientes rule. This rule presumes that such deaths occurred in order of seniority, and it is that which determines who succeeds to any shared estates. You both need Wills!!
This question has been answered by Ulia Choudhry, a Solicitor with GHP Legal. If you would like to speak to someone about this or any other legal matter it is still possible, and we are doing everything we can to ensure that we continue to offer our high levels of service to our clients. In accordance with government guidelines, some of our lawyers are currently working remotely which means you may not now receive a response as promptly as you may expect. Please kindly bear with us and we will respond as soon as we are able.
Where possible, we ask that you communicate with us by phone or email. If you have a new enquiry, please use the ‘Contact us’ form on the website or call Wrexham 01978 291456 or Oswestry 01691 659194. As a firm, you will appreciate that we are still extremely busy, and due to current circumstances work may be interrupted – however cases are still ongoing and will be prioritised by urgency and need. Stay safe and thank you for your support.