What if you don’t have a Will?
From 1st October 2014, anyone who dies without leaving a Will (known as dying “Intestate”) could be affected by the new Inheritance and Trustees' Powers Act 2014. Although none of us like to think about death, anyone who has not made a Will needs to be aware of the legal rights of their surviving relatives under the Intestacy Rules.
So what has changed?
This is a simplified guide to the main changes if you die without a Will under today's new rules. Where we mention “estate” this refers to the monetary value of all your property, money and other possessions. Where we mention “spouse” this includes a Civil Partner.
Married or in a civil partnership, without children. Your spouse will inherit your whole estate regardless of how much it is worth. Previously they would have inherited the first £450,000, while anything above this amount would have been shared between themselves and certain other surviving blood relatives (if any).
Married or in a civil partnership, with children. Your spouse will inherit the first £250,000 of your estate plus your personal possessions. Anything above this amount will be split as to half for your spouse and half for your child or children. Previously the spouse’s half of the excess over £250,000 was held in trust for them as a source of income and with the child or children inheriting this after the spouse's death.
And what remains the same?
Unmarried, with or without children. If you are simply living with someone, they have no automatic rights if you die without a Will. Instead, any child or children you have will inherit your estate, while parents and other blood relatives stand to inherit if you have no children. Although it rarely happens, your estate would go to the Treasury if you have no surviving blood relatives.