Total Wipe Out

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What is a total wipe out and who benefits? You should decide

What happens to your affairs and assets in the event that those you have provided for in your Will die before you? Although it may be unlikely to happen, it is not impossible and therefore needs to be covered in your Will.

What is a Wipe Out?

A wipe out is when those you have provided for in your Will die before you. So in order to avoid a long lost relatives benefitting from your estate you should provide for a wipe out by including a common tragedy clause and a wipe out beneficiary when making your Will. A wipe out beneficiary is someone who will inherit from your estate should everyone else pre-decease you.

On New Year’s Eve 2017, Mr Richard Cousins died in a plane crash with his two sons, his fiancée and her daughter. Fortunately, Mr Cousins had provided for this and left a wipe out beneficiary in his Will. This resulted in Oxfam inheriting around £41 million. Had Mr Cousins not left a wipe out beneficiary in his Will or provided for the event of a wipe out, the intestacy rules would have applied and his estate could have gone to family members he did not want to benefit.

What happens if I do not have a wipe out beneficiary

If you do not have a wipe out beneficiary in your Will and your family die before you, this could result in other family members inheriting under the intestacy rules. It would be sad if your estate was distributed to a half-brother or half uncle on your father’s side that you never met rather than a charity you have supported during your lifetime or a close friend. Having a wipe out beneficiary gives you choice and control over who benefits and avoids leaving your estate to pass under the intestacy rules.

At Hunt & Coombs, when advising on Wills, we always recommend including wipe out beneficiaries to avoid problems or uncertainty.

Making a Will

You should always make a Will to ensure that you look after your families and provide for those who are dependent on you. If you do not make a Will then the Intestacy Rules will apply to your estate and they will govern both who will be in charge of administering your estate and who will inherit it. There is no flexibility in the Intestacy Rules and this may therefore lead to people inheriting more or less than you would like them to.

For further information on making a Will and what to include in it, please contact our Wills, Trusts and Probate Team or email [email protected].

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