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New provisions in the Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014

Who inherits what, when there is no Will?

Who receives a person’s assets and belongings when they die if they do not have a Will is changing from 1 October 2014.

The key changes are:

  • Where a couple are married or have a civil partnership but no children the whole of the estate will pass to the surviving spouse.
  •  Where the deceased is survived by a spouse and children the surviving spouse will be entitled to all of the personal chattels and a ‘statutory legacy’ of £250,000 and half of any balance of the estate above that amount with the children receiving the other half on trust until they are 18.

The old rules meant that where the deceased had no children the deceased’s relatives could be entitled to a share of the estate, if the estate was worth more than £450,000 (excluding property held on a joint tenancy).

The new rules do not change what co-habitees and unmarried partners receive when a partner dies without a will – nothing! In those circumstances the deceased’s estate will be passed to their children, or if they do not have any, it will be passed to their parents, brothers or sisters (or their children) or other relatives depending on who is alive.

The new rules include other changes, such as those for adopted children, so that if someone dies leaving a child under the age of 18 who is subsequently adopted by someone else, after their death, they no longer lose their inheritance.

Whilst the changes being introduced on 1 October 2014 simplify what happens when someone dies without a will, they reinforce the importance of having a Will prepared that reflects what you want to happen when you die.

Dying without a Will could mean that where a married couple have separated but remain married the surviving spouse would still significantly benefit from the deceased’s estate, or receive it all where there are no children. Personal belongings or assets may not pass to those that you want to receive them; such as a long-term partner, relative, friend or charitable organisation.

It is always best to have a Solicitor prepare a will as they will discuss with you your personal circumstances and assist and guide you in making the provisions that are right for you. Many ‘off the shelf’ Will writing companies are unregulated and are uninsured.

Making a Will need not be complicated or costly. Contact a Solicitor to make a Will so that your wishes and intentions are clear and those chosen by you receive what you want them to.

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For more information or to discuss drafting a Will please email our Private Client specialists Dagmara Kulczykowska or Nick Scott or call us on 01908 689317.