The Government has recently made changes to the Rules of Intestacy by increasing the statutory legacy from £250,000 to £270,000. Here we answer the three most common questions we’re asked when it comes to spousal inheritance.
1. WHAT IS A STATUTORY LEGACY?
When a person dies intestate (i.e. without a will) and has no close surviving family members, their spouse or civil partner will likely inherit their entire estate.
However, when a person dies without a valid will, and leaves a spouse or civil partner PLUS close relatives such as children/grandchildren; AND the value of the estate exceeds £270,000, this is where the Rules of Intestacy come into play.
The statutory legacy is the fixed net sum that the deceased’s surviving spouse or civil partner is legally entitled to from the estate.
2. WHAT INHERITANCE SHOULD A SPOUSE OF CIVIL PARTNER EXPECT TO RECEIVE?
As of 6th February 2020, the new rules state that the surviving spouse or partner will inherit:
- All of the deceased’s personal possessions
- The first £270,000.00 of the deceased’s estate (which is known as the statutory legacy)
- 50% of the remaining balance.
The other 50% of the remaining balance of the estate is then divided equally between the deceased’s close surviving family members – see the flowchart below for guidance.
It is important to note that the Rules of Intestacy only apply to a deceased’s spouse or civil partner. Therefore, couples who are unmarried do not fall within these rules and any surviving partner is not legally entitled to receive any part of the deceased’s estate. Similarly, close friends and extended family have no claim to inheritance.
3. WHAT IF MY SPOUSE / CIVIL PARTNER’S ESTATE IS VALUED AT LESS THAN £270,000?
Where the deceased’s estate is valued at less than £270,000, the surviving spouse or civil partner will inherit 100% of the estate.
DON’T LEAVE IT TO CHANCE
Given the somewhat complex and uncertain nature of the above, having a Will in place will ensure that an estate is distributed in accordance with a person’s wishes.
Laura Bywater, Head of Wills Trusts and Probate at Price Slater Gawne said, “Writing a legally valid Will with the help of an expert solicitor ensures that an individual’s estate is inherited by the people of their own choosing – regardless of the Rules of Intestacy and how/if they are related.
“Will writing is not as complex as some might think and it serves to offer great peace of mind that an estate will be dealt with in accordance with that person’s exact wishes. Furthermore, an up-to-date Will can save your loved ones from having to deal with a whole host of problems at a time of great upset and grief.”
Laura is contactable on 0161 615 5554 and via email firstname.lastname@example.org.