17 February, 2020
The UK Government has increased the amount which a surviving spouse or civil partner is entitled to receive where a person dies intestate (without a valid will). The statutory legacy was £250,000; from the 6th February this was increased to £270,000.
If someone dies intestate, the rules of intestacy are followed to distribute the deceased's estate in a particular manner depending on how they are related to the deceased and who survives them. The types of people who are included are; spouse, children, parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts and uncles.
Unfortunately, the intestacy rules are somewhat archaic and make no provision for cohabitees, step-children, foster children or friends.
If you are a married couple with no children and die intestate, then the surviving spouse will inherit absolutely. If you are married with child(ren), the spouse would be entitled to the first £270,000 of the estate, and anything over is split 50% to the surviving spouse and 50% between child(ren). If you are an unmarried couple, there is no provision under the intestacy rules for the surviving partner; the inheritance would potentially go to the deceased's parents or siblings (depending on who is alive).
If you make a Will, you can layout exactly what you would like to happen to your assets when you die. You can ensure that a cohabitee is adequately provided for, leave gifts to charities and friends and so on. If relying on the intestacy rules, this may mean that some family members who you would not want to inherit (if you are estranged etc), may well receive part of your estate.
The best way to ensure that your estate is distributed the way you want it to be, is by making a Will. Please contact a member of our private client team to discuss in more detail.
For more information contact Megan Diamond in our Wills, Probate, Tax & Trusts department via email or phone on 01772 220204. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.