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From the 1 October a new piece of legislation is going to change what are now nearly 100 year old intestacy rules i.e. rules as to what happens to someone’s money and property upon their death where they do not have a Will.

The significant changes affect surviving spouses and civil partners and are as follows:

A.            Where someone dies leaving no children but a surviving spouse or civil partner: 

Currently the surviving spouse receives £450,000 and personal belongings whilst the remainder if any of the estate passes to the deceased’s parents or siblings.

From the 1 October anyone dying without a Will, their entire estate will pass to their surviving spouse / civil partner.

B.            Where somebody dies leaving children: 

Currently the surviving spouse / civil partner receives the first £250,000, the personal belongings and an income for life in half of the remainder, which then passes to the children in equal shares. The other half of the remaining estate passes to the deceased’s children directly in equal shares.

From the 1 October where someone dies without a Will the surviving spouse / civil partner will received the first £250,000 and the personal belongings and then one-half absolutely of the remainder of the estate (rather than an income for life from it) and the remaining half as before shall continue to pass to the deceased’s children.

It is hoped that a spouse or civil partner will be treated more favourably then has been in the past.

Another significant change relates to making a claim against an estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family Dependants) Act 1975.

Firstly, a claim under that Act can now be issued before a Grant of Representation is extracted rather than waiting until the Grant has been issued and making a claim within 6 months of the date of issue.

Secondly,  claims against an estate by a “dependant” of the deceased will no longer need to show the deceased contributed more to the relationship than the claimant.    One may qualify for being “maintained by the deceased” if the deceased made a substantial contribution to the claimant’s needs.  

Legal advice may vary with the circumstances of each case - be sure to take your solicitor’s advice.

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