Intestacy - who inherits if someone dies without a will?

New Intestacy Rules come into force 1st October 2014

In the first change of its kind since 1926, new Intestacy rules come into effect that will change the way in which relatives inherit assets from someone who has died without a Will. In short, particularly for non-married couples, it’s vital to make a Will for your clients to ensure that those they wish to inherit their Estate actually do so.

Please find below a summary of the changes:

Unmarried couples
No change - Despite pressure to allow people who have lived together for a number of years to inherit some part of their partner's Estate, the new intestacy laws still make no provision for ‘common law’ partners – even those who have children with the deceased. The only way non married partners can inherit each other’s Estate is to make a Will.

Married couples/civil partners with NO children
Old Law – Only the first £450,000 plus half of the remainder would go to the surviving partner. The other half would be split between the deceased’s blood relatives.

New Law - Married spouses are now entitled to the whole Estate if their husband/wife dies without a Will and they have no children.

Married Couples and civil partners WITH children
Old Law – Surviving spouse would receive; the first £250,000 of the Estate, all the deceased’s belongings and life interest in half of the remainder of the Estate. The deceased’s children would receive the other half.

New Law – Surviving spouse receives the first £250,000 of the Estate and any personal belongings. Instead of receiving life interest in 50% of the remaining balance, they now receive it as an outright payment. The remaining 50% goes to the deceased’s children.

Adopted Children
Old Law – Risk that adopted children would lose their inheritance if they were adopted.

New Law – A child of the deceased will inherit even if they are subsequently adopted.

Redefinition of ‘chattels’
The legal definition for chattels has now changed to include anything that is not; monetary, business assets or held as an investment.

If a person has no surviving children or direct descendants (great grandchildren etc)
The Estate will be inherited in this order:

•    Your parents.

•    Whole blood brothers and sisters, or their children if your siblings have not survived you.

•    Half blood brothers and sisters, or their children if there is no surviving parent.

•    Your grandparents.

•    Your whole blood uncles and aunts, or their children.

•    Half-blood uncles and aunts or their children.

•    The Crown.


Do you have a will?

Is it in date and reflect your current requirements?

Do you need help setting up a will?

Do you understand the rules of Intestacy (who inherits if you die without a will)?

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