Dying Without a Will

As from The 1st October 2014 the Rules of Intestacy (dying without a Will) have changed.

The rules have been quite archaic and only benefited spouses or civil partners and blood relatives, regardless of your spouse’s feelings towards them. This mean that people who you wanted to inherit, such as friends or stepchildren, would not benefit in any way from your passing. In addition, dying without a Will nominating a Guardian for your children (under 18 years) could mean that they would be in the control of the local authorities, and is some instances, end up in foster care.

Up to the 1st October the rules which have been in place where geared to provide a fixed amount that a spouse would receive should there be NO Will, the first £250k. This threshold which once exceeded; the remained of the estate would then go to the next of kin, children, grandchildren etc. Any property owned by the couple would not form part of this ‘allowance’ and therefore automatically become a direct gift from the deceased to their spouse.

The good news is that from 1st October 2014, the rules have changed to improve the system. The new rules have the effect of simplifying how an Estate is distributed in the event of someone dying without a Will in place.

What are the changes to the rules of Intestacy?

The rules have been in place since 1925 and where reviewed in 1970, 44 years ago, and the rules have amended the amount a spouse or civil partner is entitled to where there are no children, as well as simplifying how assets are shared where the deceased is survived by a spouse or civil partner and children. These changes also provide any surviving children from the risk of loosing a potential inheritance. In addition the new rules will amend the laws where child dies intestate and unmarried fathers loose out.

What does this mean for married couples and civil partners without children?

Where there are no children, the entire estate will pass to the surviving partner.

What does this mean for married couples and civil partners with children?

Where there are children, the surviving spouse or civil partner still receives the first £250k and personal belongings (Chattels) and the property. The remainder of the estate goes to the deceased direct descendants.

What does this mean for unmarried couples?

The are no changes in the law in this instance - So should you be unmarried and die without making a Will, then the deceased estate goes to their next of kin.

  • There is now a new definition for ‘Chattels’ : it is anything that is not monitory, business assets or held as an investment.
  • There are now new rules for Adopted children: as from October 1st the new rules will allow a child of the deceased to inherit on intestacy, even if he or she is subsequently adopted.

fundamentally, the message is to make a Will as without one you cannot control who inherits or what they inherit from your estate.


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