Changes to the laws of intestacy

Intestacy laws have been updated and affect the estates of English domiciled persons who die without a Will (the 'intestate').

Briefing - 09/10/2014

The legislative intention is that the changes bring the law into the 21st century.

In the previous amendment of the law, where the intestate left a spouse/civil partner but no children (or issue), the spouse or civil partner would have to share the residue of the estate with their "in-laws" (ie. the intestate's blood relatives).  Provision for the "in-laws" is now removed.  The spouse/civil partner will take the whole estate.  This new provision is not only likely to accord with the wishes of an individual with a spouse/civil partner, but it may also be inheritance tax efficient.

The position with regard to an intestate with children (or issue) and a spouse/civil partner has also now changed.   Previously, the spouse/civil partner shared a one half of residue on life interest trusts, with the other half for the children (or issue).  The life interest trust for the spouse or civil partner is now removed so that they take half the residue outright.  Again, this division of the estate may be more appropriate for the 21st century, however, it is not inheritance tax efficient.  It is possible to provide for both the surviving spouse or civil partner and children (or issue) with certain Will structuring.

There is still no provision for a cohabitee.  Surviving cohabitees of an intestate inherit nothing by default.  They remain in the invidious position of having to bring a claim against the blood relatives of the intestate to receive anything from the estate. 


Should you have any questions or wish to discuss any point of the above in further detail, please do not hesitate to contact a member of Hawksford's Wills & Probate team

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