What do the new Intestacy Laws mean?

The Inheritance and Trustee Powers Act 2014 came into force on 1st October 2014. The Act made some amendments to the laws relating to Intestacy (dying without having made a valid Will).

Many people assume that if they die intestate, all their property will automatically go to their spouse or partner. This is not necessarily the case. There is a strict hierarchy to follow as to who can inherit from an intestate person. 

If you have not made a Will and are living with your partner (unmarried), your estate will automatically be shared amongst any children and grandchildren (issue). Your partner will not be entitled to anything. 

If there are no living issue but there are living parents, the estate will be shared equally between the living parents. 

If there are no living issue and no living parents, the next level would be whether there are any siblings. If there are siblings, the estate would then be split equally between them. Following on from this, the Crown would then look to any living grandparents and finally whether there are any living aunts or uncles. If there are still no surviving relatives, the estate would then pass to the Crown. No provision is made for an unmarried partner or ‘common law’ spouse.

If you haven’t made a Will, but are married or in a civil partnership at the time of death and there are no surviving children, the spouse or civil partner would be entitled to the whole estate absolutely. This  may not however be the most tax efficient method. Furthermore, any wishes in relation to leaving particular legacies, could not be carried out. 

If there is no Will but you are married or in a civil partnership and have surviving children, the spouse/civil partner would be entitled to all of the personal belongings, plus a statutory legacy of £250,000. They would also be entitled to 50% of the remaining balance together with 6% statutory interest. The surviving children would be entitled to the remaining 50% when they attain the age of 18. This can cause complications however in that, if there is no Will, any guardians that you intended to appoint to look after any minor children will not be appointed. The Court will decide who to appoint as guardian of minor children. This could result in children being taking into the care of the local authority. 

There are serious ramifications should you die without making a Will. Please contact us today to avoid your estate being distributed against your wishes.