New intestacy rules come into effect on 1st October 2014 that may affect those of you who currently do not have a Will in place, relating to the way your assets could be divided up when you die.
Intestacy rules are a statutory set of rules that dictate who will inherit your belongings and in what priority should you die without a Will in place. Having been around for many years, they are fairly antiquated to say the least and certainly don’t seem to account for the more complex lives we lead these days.
Changes aside, the biggest losers remain common-law partners who are still not recognised and therefore receive nothing, regardless of the length of the relationship. Quite simply without a Will in place a common-law partner has no say whatsoever and certainly does not benefit in any way; a harsh reality but one that can be rectified quite easily and quickly by making a Will.
Incidentally none of the changes I am about to mention affect those who already have a Will in place or those with assets that don’t exceed £250,000; the rest of you, please read on ....
Impact of new Intestacy Rules October 2014
Joining the ranks of common-law partners in the competition for the biggest losers of the changes to intestacy rules are the parents!
Intestacy rule change 1
Under the new rules for married couples and those in civil partnerships who do not have children, in the event of a death, the surviving spouse would receive 100% of the estate; a change to the previous intestacy rules which saw the first £450,000 going to the surviving spouse plus 50% of the remaining estate, with the remaining 50% being split between blood relatives which typically went to the parents.
Intestacy rule change 2
There are also significant changes for married and civil partnership couples with children: under the old rules the surviving spouse took everything up to £250,000, with a complex system of dividing up the rest!
From 1st October this has been simplified with the surviving spouse still taking the first £250,000, but also 50% of the remainder. The children will then receive the remaining 50% providing they are at least 18 years of age.
Intestacy rule change 3
The new rules have also cleared up a rather odd anomaly for children under 18 years of age who are adopted following the death of their natural parents as they will now no longer lose their right to their natural parent’s inheritance.
Intestacy rule change 4
The final change addresses and clarifies the rather prehistoric wording of “chattels”, which will now be defined as ‘anything that isn’t monetary, held as an investment or a business asset’.
Scores on the doors
So to summarise, the winners who benefit from the changes to the intestacy rules have to be the surviving spouses. The biggest losers continue to be common-law partners with the addition of parents, children and blood relatives and don’t forget the one key piece of information that you should take away from all of this; any uncertainty can be immediately removed if you would only make a Will today.