Synopsis: Changes to the intestacy rules, introduced as a result of the Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014, mean that surviving spouses/civil partners will inherit a larger share of an estate. We provide an overview of these changes.
The Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014 announced a number of key changes to the intestacy rules. Broadly, under these changes in cases where there is a surviving spouse/civil partner they will inherit a larger part of the estate than was previously the case. Below we look at these changes and illustrate the position before and after 1 October 2014 with examples.
‘Personal chattels’ will continue to pass to a surviving spouse/civil partner however, the definition has been updated to include any assets which are not held for business or investment purposes.
It is estimated that almost two-thirds of UK adults have not written a will and therefore the estate would be distributed in accordance with the rules of intestacy. The introduction of these changes therefore provides an opportunity to engage with clients to determine whether i) they have made a will and ii) whether it is likely to meet their chosen objectives. While these changes somewhat simplify matters when dealing with the estate, they also mean that in many cases other blood relatives will not have a stake in the estate and this may not be in line with what the client had in mind . The only way to achieve their chosen objectives is to write a will and ensure it clearly articulates their wishes.
There are other important factors which need to be considered, especially if there are minor children, for example: Who will act as their guardian should both parents die at the same time? What about the children’s financial future? What should happen to the family home? Are there any family heirlooms which are to pass to particular individuals?
Finally, these changes have no impact on unmarried partners who will continue to not have any entitlement where there is no will in place even if they have been living together for a number of years – see our earlier bulletin entitled, ‘Common-law marriage, a common misnomer’ for more details.
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