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Downton Abbey Storyline - The Importance of Making a Will!

Last night saw the return of Downton Abbey, and the opening episode reveals that heir to the estate, Matthew Crawley, has died intestate – leaving behind a wife and son, and an estate owing crippling death duties. One of the characters remark that Matthew hadn’t made a Will as he thought death was many years away – as do many people, and yet no one can predict when they will die. 

Making a Will means your affairs are in order, whenever you may die.  It ensures that you decide who inherits your estate, and that loved ones are taken care of.

If unmarried couples have children, when one partner dies without leaving a Will, the deceased’s estate would pass to or for the benefit of the children, and not to the surviving partner.  The risk is that the surviving partner may not have the financial means to care for themselves and their family.  The position for Mary in Downton is slightly better.  As the surviving spouse, Mary is not entitled to the whole of Matthew’s estate.  Instead, she will only receive a limited proportion of his estate, with the main share passing to their baby son.

People can die at a young age or when they are in their 80s, 90s or beyond - effectively at any age. So do not wait until you reach a ‘suitable’ age to make your Will - you may not ever get there!