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30th September 2014

New Intestacy Rules in Force

If you die without a Will, the intestacy rules set out who will inherit your assets. New rules come into force from 1 October 2014.

If you die without a Will, the intestacy rules set out who will inherit your assets. New rules come into force from 1 October 2014. You may be surprised at how little children of married parents receive or that cohabitees still have no automatic entitlement. Irrespective of how long an unmarried couple has been together, or whether they have children, the surviving partner still has no automatic entitlement to their deceased partner’s assets. If you want to provide for an unmarried partner on your death, you need to make a Will. If there is no Will, the surviving partner may be forced to make a claim to the court to receive a share of the estate. If a married person dies, without leaving children, then their entire estate will pass to their surviving spouse. In the past half of the estate over £450,000 passed to other relatives – usually parents. If a married person dies with children, the surviving spouse receives the first £250,000 of the estate and half of the rest outright. The other half passes to the children. In the past the spouse would only have a ‘life-interest’ in the half share above £250,000, protecting it for the children. Having a life-interest meant that they could receive the income from this fund, but they were not allowed to the underlying capital, which would pass to the children on the death of the surviving spouse. Whilst removing the ‘life-interest’ simplifies the administration of the estate, it also removes the safeguard which ensures another portion of the estate would pass to the children. This is particularly important in the case of step-children, who may find they lose out if the surviving spouse does not provide for them in his or her will. Children may feel aggrieved that they receive relatively little from the estate and this may encourage them to apply to the court for a greater share of the estate. Having a properly-executed Will can help ensure that the people you want to benefit from your estate, benefit. It can also help avoid difficult and damaging court claims. For more information, contact Catherine Ball on 01604 233233 or click here to email Catherine. To view an information sheet detailing the changes the new act will bring click here. For more information on our Will services click here.

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