Who will inherit your wealth? Key changes to the intestacy laws explained
If you die without making a valid will, then the intestacy rules will determine what happens to your estate. Ann Farnill, solicitor for wills, trust and probate at Tallents Solicitors in Southwell explains the key changes to the rules and how this will affect the distribution of your wealth after your death.
Dying intestate, or without having made a will, puts the government in charge of deciding what happens to your estate under the Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014.
They will take into consideration how much your estate is worth and your surviving relatives, when deciding how to divide up your assets.
The key changes to the intestacy rules give new inheritance rights to:
- – Spouses and civil partners
- – Adopted children
- – Unmarried fathers
These changes will be applied in the absence of a valid will.
Unfortunately no new rights are afforded to unmarried couples – making a will as important as ever if you wish your ‘common law’ partner to inherit any of your estate.
Changes for spouses and civil partners
The spouse or civil partner will now inherit the totality of the deceased’s estate, if there are no surviving children, or other descendants.
If the deceased has surviving children/other descendants, then the estate has to be shared between the spouse/civil partner and the children. Effectively your spouse/civil partner will receive more and your children will receive less. This could be of concern for those in a second marriage with children from an earlier one.
Changes for adopted children
Children who are adopted after the death of their biological parents will not lose their claim to inheritance from the estate of their biological parents.
Changes for unmarried fathers
As long as the father’s name appears on the deceased child’s birth certificate, then the father is now entitled to claim an inheritance from the child’s estate.
Separated but not yet divorced
Separating partners should be especially aware of how the changes affect them. If you have separated but not divorced, and die without a will, then your estranged partner will inherit everything from your estate. If you die leaving children behind, then they could inherit more than your children.
These changes highlight how important it is for everyone to have a will. We know that not everyone wants to face their mortality, but a simple document can give you peace of mind that should the worst happen, then your loved ones will be looked after in the way you would wish.
Writing a will need not be scary or expensive and makes good common sense if you don’t want to leave a financial mess for your loved ones to sort out after your death. It doesn’t matter how young, or old you are, everyone should have a legally drafted and witnessed will to ensure their estate is properly distributed after their death.
Even if you’ve previously made a will, Tallents would urge you to review its contents at least every five years. It may be that you want to make some alterations to the beneficiaries, or your estate planning could be updated in light of new inheritance legislation. It makes sense to regularly review your will with a qualified and regulated solicitor and Tallents are here to help you do that efficiently.
This article covers only a few of the key changes and as everyone’s circumstances are different, it makes sense to speak to a qualified solicitor and discuss your options.