News article published on: 13th August 2019
When a person dies intestate, that is without leaving a valid will disposing of the whole of his or her property, the distribution of the deceased’s estate among family members is governed by a set of legal rules known as the Intestacy Rules.
The Inheritance and Trustees Powers Act 2014 (the ‘Act’) received Royal Assent on 14th May 2014, and came into force on 1st October 2014. The intention of the Act is to update the law, which had not been comprehensively reviewed for over 20 years, to reflect the changing needs and expectations of modern families.
The main changes in respect of Intestacy are as follows:
Spouse/civil partner no issue
Previously, where a person died intestate leaving a surviving spouse/civil partner but no children or other descendants, the deceased’s assets were shared between the deceased’s spouse and also the deceased’s parents and/or siblings.
The Act ensures that on intestacy all of the deceased’s assets now pass to the surviving spouse absolutely in this situation.
Spouse/civil partner and children or other descendants
The Act also simplifies the sharing of assets on intestacy where the deceased was survived by a spouse and children or other descendants.
The surviving spouse now takes the personal chattels and a statutory legacy of £250,000 plus half of any balance of the estate outright. The surviving children or other descendants take the remaining half on statutory trusts.
This enhances the interests of the spouse which was previously limited to a life interest in half of the residuary estate left after the statutory legacy.
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