Blogs

Changes to the Intestacy rules benefit spouses and partners

From 6 February 2020 the law changes so that when someone dies without a Will (Intestate) and has children, the amount which will pass outright to the spouse or civil partner (or legal partner) will increase to £270k from £250k.

What will your legal partner now inherit if you were to die Intestate?

A reason we often hear for people not making a Will is that they wrongly assume that when they die everything they own will automatically pass to their legal partner. Despite what people often think, this is not always the case particularly if they have children .

For example, where you die and have children, your assets (other than those held as joint tenants) will pass as follows:

Personal possessions

Personal possessions (which includes furniture and clothing etc.) will pass to your legal partner and

In relation to everything else
  • From 6 February 2020 the first £270k of your estate will pass to your legal partner (currently it’s only £250k) and
  • what remains is then shared as follows:
    • 50% to your legal partner and
    • 50% is split equally between your children (by way of a ‘statutory trusts’ if at the time of death your children are under 18)
Why else should you have a Will?

It is therefore especially important, where you have children and/or do not own assets as joint tenant with your legal partner, to put in place a Will.

Wills are the only way to ensure that your wishes are carried out, including:

  • Who would you like to look after your children on your death, where you are not survived by their other parent
  • What should happen where none of those who you wish to inherit survive you? In the event that this happens, your estate could pass – under an intestacy – to people you don’t know or like
  • Whether there are any other gifts you would like to make
  • Should the Will apply to assets held in a specific country (for example do you have assets in another country to which that country’s laws will or should apply)
  • Dictating the age at which beneficiaries should inherit (the default is 18, which is a young age to inherit a large amount of money, the result of which can have a very negative impact on that person’s life)
  • Ensuring that your assets pass in the most efficient way for Inheritance Tax purposes.
Why should you instruct a lawyer to prepare a Will?

Where you go to the trouble of writing a Will, you should ensure that it addresses your wishes and that it is legally enforceable.

There are many different ways to distribute your estate to people, and holding assets in trust rather than passing them directly to a beneficiary may be the best way to achieve your goals.

If you would like to discuss any matters raised, please contact Richard Woods or someone else from our Wills and Probate team.

 

Back to top