The intestacy rules (which deal with the estate of a person who dies without a Will) have recently changed, but many people feel these changes do not go far enough.
What is intestacy?
When a person dies without leaving a valid will they are said to have died intestate and there are specific rule which govern how their assets are.
What has changed?
Prior to 1st October 2014, if a person who was married or in a civil partnership died without leaving a valid will, and there were no children of that relationship, the first £450,000 of the estate plus half of the rest went to the surviving partner. The other half was then split between the deceased’s blood relatives – please speak to one of our solicitors if you would like comprehensive details and rules.
Under the new rules, the estate of anyone who is in a marriage or civil partnership and passes away without a valid will, and there are no children, will now pass entirely to the surviving partner without any other relatives receiving anything.
If the spouse or civil partner dies without a will and there are children of that relationship, under the old rules the surviving spouse/partner would inherit £250,000 plus a life interest in half of the balance. This meant that the surviving spouse was only entitled to the income produced by one half of the residue, the other half passing to the deceased’s children.
The change in the law means now that in these circumstances a surviving spouse or civil partner will still receive £250,000, but they will also receive half of the balance absolutely rather than it being placed in a life interest trust.
Alexandra Mitchell, partner and probate specialist at Watsons Solicitors, commented:
“The changes to the intestate rules represent greater recognition of spouses and civil partners, but once again highlight the necessity to have a valid and up to date will in place. We highly recommend reviewing your will whenever there is a personal change in circumstances; perhaps a change of job, the birth of a child, moving house, receiving an inheritance, divorce or separation. Any such change may mean material difference and effect how you would like your estate to be distributed if the unthinkable were to happen.
“Reviewing your will, with the support of an expert, is a straight forward process.”
Contacting Watsons Solicitors
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The contents of this article should not be construed as advice and do not necessarily reflect our views. Advice should always be attained in order to assess your own individual circumstances.