Do I need a Disaster Clause in my Will?

At Else Solicitors we work closely with clients and customers to ensure that all scenarios and eventualities are covered when they are preparing or amending a Will. One topic that we always include on our checklist is the option of including a disaster clause.

A disaster clause outlines what is to happen if all your intended beneficiaries die before you or at the same time. You might think this extremely unlikely, and in truth it is a rare event, but all the same it is worth including a disaster clause especially for couples who have children who are still under 18 or living at home, or where they are likely to travel together as a group.

Couples with children generally want each other to benefit first, and then if they both die at the same time the estate to pass down to the children. But what happens in a disaster scenario where there is an accident in which the whole family are taken together? An awful thing to contemplate, but not out of the realms of possibility for example if they are all in the same car that is involved in a road traffic accident.

If the Will makes no provision, then the intestacy rules will apply to any part of the residue of the estate where there are no surviving beneficiaries. Given that in the scenario we are talking about there will be no spouse or children surviving, first port of call will be parents (after that other blood relatives, who may be quite distant).

In the case of the estate passing back up to parents, then this can be complicated given two sets of parents. A disaster clause can help in this scenario by ensuring the estate is split equally between both sets of parents.

Another complication can arise if there is a child from a previous marriage. If there is no disaster clause, then intestacy rules apply, and that child will inherit at least something from the estate, and possibly even a big-ticket item like the house (perhaps against the wishes of the couple).

Other scenarios that need to be considered include divorced parents, family feuds, and individuals who have distanced themselves completely from their not immediate family and do not wish them to be beneficiaries. If there is no disaster clause then these relatives might end up with everything through the rules of intestacy.

The examples highlight above are just a few of the considerations that need to be addressed by anybody who is making or amending a Will They also show the importance of getting the right legal expertise and advice. Else Solicitors have a dedicated team of professional specialists in this area. For an informal chat then please contact Kathryn Caple, Head of Wills and Probate at Else Solicitors, on 01283 526230 or

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