Changes to the rules of intestacy were introduced in early February, increasing by £20,000 the amount a spouse will automatically inherit in certain circumstances.
Intestacy rules decide how the assets of someone who dies without making a will must be shared out.
From 2014, the spouse or Civil Partner was entitled to all assets in the deceased’s sole name up to a value of £250,000 together with the personal chattels. The surviving spouse or Civil Partner was also entitled to half the value of any remaining assets, with the other half to be shared between the deceased’s children. The recent changes to the intestacy rules have increased the amount for the surviving spouse or Civil Partner to £270,000, with other assets divided up as before.
Complications and disputes may arise if the asset in question is a property. The surviving spouse or Civil Partner could forced to sell the property they once shared with the deceased in order to satisfy the children’s entitlement. Legal fees can eat into the inheritance, and the survivor may be faced with the distressing situation of losing their home as well as their loved one.
Cohabiting couples should be aware that they have no rights at all under the intestacy rules however long the relationship. Many people wrongly believe that because they were living with someone, they will automatically be entitled to a share of the estate. This is not the case in law, as only spouses and Civil Partners benefit under the intestacy rules.
The only way to ensure that assets are shared out according to the deceased’s wishes is to make a valid will.
At Bretherton Law we have been helping the people of Hertfordshire to manage their affairs for over 50 years. Our expert team can guide you through the will writing process, as well as dealing with Lasting Powers of Attorney, Court of Protection, trust or probate services on your behalf. Contact Anne Stockley on 01727 869293 or use the contact form below.
For more information see Gov.uk: Intestacy – who inherits if someone dies without a will?