Changes to the UK Intestacy Rules

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Changes to the UK Intestacy Rules 2020. Who is entitled to your estate if you die without a valid Will?

A Will sets out how a person wants their estate to be distributed when they pass away. If there is no valid Will then they are said to have died ‘intestate’. This means  that their estate is distributed according to the Intestacy Rules.

The UK Intestacy Rules specify the order in which relatives inherit from an estate. The list is as follows:-

  1. Spouse or civil partner;
  2. Children (or if deceased, their children);
  3. Parents;
  4. Siblings (or if deceased, their children);
  5. Half siblings (or if deceased, their children);
  6. Grandparents;
  7. Uncles and aunts (or their children);
  8. If no relatives exist, the estate passes to the crown.

Generally, if one class does not exist, it then passes to the next. However, where a spouse (or civil partner) inherits the estate and the deceased also had children then the estate is split between both classes. From 6 February 2020 the spouse or civil partner has been entitled to the first £270,000. This is called the ‘statutory legacy’. They are also entitled to the personal possessions. The remainder of the estate will then be divided in two, with the spouse (or civil partner) receiving one half and the deceased’s children receiving the other half.

The statutory legacy was previously £250,000, so this change means that where the deceased had a spouse (or civil partner) and children, the spouse/civil partner now receives an additional £20,000 and the estate must be in excess of £270,000 for the deceased’s children to receive anything from it. If the deceased does not have children, the spouse or civil partner still receives the entire estate.

The increase has been made in accordance with the Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014, which specified that the statutory legacy should be increased every 5 years.

While this is good news for a spouse, the change will result in children receiving a smaller share of an estate, or possibly no legacy at all under the UK intestacy rules. Should this happen in a situation where the deceased’s children are financially vulnerable, they may be able to bring a claim against the estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. Slee Blackwell Solicitors specialise in inheritance claims and if you are affected by the intestacy rules then you can contact us for a free case assessment and details of available funding options, such as no win – no fee.

It is clear that the intestacy rules do not always make provision for the people who are most in need and can result in financial hardship for loved ones after you have passed. The best way to ensure you provide for those you would like to benefit is to make a will. It is easy to do so and not expensive.

If you would like to make a Will or need guidance on the UK intestacy rules then call 0808 139 1606 or email us at [email protected]