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Intestacy vs Will - You decide!

The rules governing how your estate is distributed without a valid Will change from time to time.  The question is whether you feel if a Will is still necessary for you and your family and also if you want your executors to have power to deal with your estate immediately from your death?  Have a look at how the changes below might affect you and your family.

Intestacy occurs if you do not have a valid Will or if part of your Will is invalid and so your estate or part of it needs to be distributed in accordance with the statutory rules.

If you leave a spouse (which includes a registered civil partner) but no children then the whole of your estate will pass to your spouse.  No-one else will inherit.

If you leave a spouse and children, then your spouse receives the first £322,000 of your estate; thereafter the remaining estate is divided as to half to your spouse absolutely and half divided equally to your children at the age of 18 years.  If your estate does not exceed £322,000 or your assets that pass to your spouse do not exceed £322,000 then your children do not inherit anything.

If you are living with someone but unmarried, your surviving partner does not inherit from your estate at all.  If you live with someone then he/she has no rights to receive anything from your estate - you are treated as a single person when you die.

In addition to the changes on intestacy, the rules surrounding who can make a claim on your estate have been 'updated' so that the definition of a 'child of the family' now includes a relationship whereby you have 'at any time...stood in the role of a parent'.  This means that if you have not made provision in your Will OR if you die intestate, a claim can be made on your estate by someone who is not your birth or adopted child but who considers themselves as a 'child of the family' under the new definition. 

The changes also go towards recognising mutual dependency relationships between unmarried couples and confirm that those that are 'maintained' - but not paid such as services of employment - can make claims on your estate. 

The new changes to the intestacy rules and to the definitions of those who can make a claim on your estate make it easier to determine who inherits under intestacy but open the interpretation of those who can make a claim on your estate. If you have a Will, this doesn't prevent anyone from making a claim on your estate, but it certainly shows that you have considered all the circumstances surrounding the distribution of your estate and the people who have a possible moral or financial claim on your estate.

If you would like to discuss changes to the intestacy rules or potential claims on an estate, please feel free to contact Trudy Rogers on 01635 569670 or