The intestacy rules have recently been updated, although clients are still advised to have a Will in place to ensure their estate passes to chosen beneficiaries.
If a person dies intestate (without a Will), then the law decides who gets what depending on which relatives of the deceased survive.
Since 1 October 2014, the rules have been simplified by the Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014. Now, where an intestate person leaves a spouse or civil partner but no children, grandchildren or other descendants, the whole of the deceased’s estate passes to the surviving spouse or civil partner. Previously that may not have been the case, depending on whether other relatives also survived.
Also, where a person dies intestate leaving a spouse and issue, after the chattels pass to the spouse everything else in the estate is split in half, with one half for the spouse and the other half equally between the children. Before 1 October 2014, it was more complicated with the spouse or civil partner having a life interest in part of the deceased’s assets.
While these changes and simplifications are arguably welcome, the intestacy rules make no provision for cohabiting partners, step-children, charities or other friends and family you may wish to benefit. The rules are a “one size fits all” approach and ultimately will not suit every set of circumstances.
The only way to ensure your estate is gifted to the persons you want and the right people appointed executors to deal with your estate, is to make a Will.
The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.