Do I need a Will? My spouse will receive everything

Written instructions in a will make it easier to understand what you want to happen

A will is a way of making sure that your wishes are fulfilled when you die. Written instructions in a will make it easier for your family and friends to understand what you want to happen to your possessions and money (your 'estate') and to act on those wishes.  

If you die without a valid will in place, this is known as dying ‘intestate’.

If your estate is worth less than £270,000 then your husband, wife or civil partner will receive all of your estate. If it has a value of more than £270,000, the remainder of your estate (beyond that first £270,000) will be distributed as follows:

  • your husband, wife or civil partner gets an absolute interest in the half of the remainder
  • the other half is then divided equally between your surviving children


Fred and Wilma are married with two grown-up children. They have both indicated that they would like their estate to pass to the surviving spouse, but they never get around to making a will. Their total estate is worth £600,000.  

Sadly Fred passes away intestate, meaning that the estate will be distributed according to the laws of England and Wales.

Wilma inherits the first £270,000 of the estate plus an absolute interest in half of the remainder.  

In this example that will be (£600,000 - £270,000) x 50% = £165,000.

From the total estate, Wilma inherits £270,000 + £165,00 = £435,000

The children each receive an equal share of the remainder £165,000/2 = £82,500

If you haven’t made a will and would like to understand who will be entitled to your estate, check out Intestacy - who inherits if someone dies without a will?


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