The Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014 came into force on 1st October 2014, introducing significant changes to the way an estate passes if there is no Will.
The changes give greater rights of inheritance to spouses and registered civil partners where a person dies intestate (i.e. without leaving a valid Will).
- If a person dies leaving a spouse but no descendants, the surviving spouse will inherit the entire estate. (Previously, the suriving spouse would have received all personal belongings (chattels), the first £450,000 and half of residue, with the other half passing to the deceased’s other relatives.)
- If a person dies leaving a spouse and descendants, the spouse will inherit all personal belongings, the first £250,000 and half of residue, with the other half passing to the descendants at the age of 18. (The change here is that the spouse now receives half of residue, whereas previously he/she was only entitled to the income from this half, with the capital being preserved for the children.)
The simplification of the rules has been welcomed by many, but issues may arise for children, particularly on remarriage of the surviving spouse, and there is still no provision for unmarried couples.
As ever, the best advice is to make a Will so that your estate passes as you wish.
For advice on Wills and estates please contact the partner at Hunters having responsibility for your legal matters, or (for new enquiries) contact a partner in the Private Client team.