Important changes to the Rules for those who die without a Will

Important changes to the Rules for those who die without a Will

The Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act comes into force on 1st October 2014 amongst other things this Act simplifies and changes the way the estates of those who die intestate (without a Will) are distributed in particular for married couples and those in a Civil Partnership.

Under the old rules a surviving spouse or civil partner where there are no children would only receive the first £450,000 with the balance of the estate being shared with relatives of the deceased.  Under the new Act the survivor would receive the whole estate.

Where there are children the survivor only received the first £250,000 with a ‘life interest’ or the right to receive income for life in half the remainder.  Under the new Rules this half of the remainder would be given to the survivor.  In both cases the other half of the remainder would be held for the benefit of the children until they reached 18 years.

These are welcome changes but only go some way to protecting those with children.  In our experience in almost all cases people would want their whole estate to go to the survivor and in these circumstances they need to make a Will.

For those not married or in a Civil Partnership the rules will not change.  If one partner dies the survivor is entitled to nothing.  Consequently it is essential that they make Wills to protect each other and, if they have them, their children.

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