How will the changes to the intestacy rules affect you?

Posted on: October 13th, 2015

The government likes to keep us all on our toes by constantly making changes to the law. These changes normally act to make things more complicated, and for the more cynical of us, to raise more money in taxes. However the changes introduced by the new Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014 which came into force on 1st October 2014, has actually simplified the intestacy provisions.

If you die without making a Will the state has laid out rules which determines how your assets should be divided upon your death, these rules are known as the intestacy provisions.

In the past, if a person died with a spouse or civil partner but no children their estate could potentially be divided between their partner and their parents or siblings depending on its value. Now the survivor will inherit everything.

If the person had children, the surviving partner will now receive a legacy of £250,000, all the personal belongings and half of everything else. In the past this half share would have been held on a trust for the lifetime of the partner but ultimately pass to the deceased’s children. This therefore strengthens the position of spouses at the cost of other family members. Which has to raise concerns about estranged or separated couples as the rules do not differentiate between couples that live together and those that do not.

The position for unmarried couples remains the same, the survivor will not inherit anything from the deceased’s estate as a matter of course as there is no such thing in law as a common law husband or wife.

Therefore, the message is simple, of you want to choose who inherits your estate and not the state, make a Will, it’s as easy as that.