If you live in England and Wales and die without having made a Will, your estate is divided under the Rules of Intestacy, a review of which has been in force since 2020.
We discuss the Rules of Intestacy, and encourage you to make sure you have a valid Will. And if you have a loved one who has died intestate, please refer to our Intestacy Flowchart to see where you stand.
What is ‘Intestacy’? And what happens if you die with no Will?
In the event that an individual dies in England and Wales without a Will or their Will only disposes of part of their assets then their residuary estate (or the undisposed part thereof) will fall under the Rules of Intestacy – described in our Rules of Intestacy Flowchart.
The current Rules of Intestacy came into force on 1st October 2014 and under these Rules, where someone dies leaving a spouse but no surviving children then the residuary estate is paid to their spouse absolutely. If however, the deceased dies leaving a spouse and surviving children then their residuary estate is divided as follows:
- The surviving spouse will keep all the assets (including property), up to £250,000.00 (known as a Statutory Legacy) and all the personal possessions.
- The surviving spouse will also receive an absolute interest in half of the remainder of the residuary estate and,
- The other half is then divided equally between the surviving children.
The Rules of Intestacy that Apply Today
The Government made a change on 6th February 2020. In the intestacy rules as of 2020, the Statutory Legacy increased from £250,000.00 to £270,000.00.*
The increase was most certainly a welcome change. However, at Cunningtons we wish to ensure that you do not rely on future increases of the Statutory Legacy as a reason for not having your Will drafted. It is incredibly important that each individual has their Will drafted by a qualified Solicitor especially as under the 2020 Rules of Intestacy, unmarried partners will not inherit.
*Please note that Inheritance Law in the UK may vary between the nations: the Rules of Intestacy covered here only specifically apply to England and Wales.
Avoiding the Pain of Intestacy
The president of the Law Society, which has also reported on the matter recently, reinforces our view and states:
“Writing a legally valid will with the help of an expert solicitor ensures people’s estate is inherited exactly as they would choose and can prevent a whole raft of problems landing on loved ones when they are grieving.”
We never know when our life will end, so it is important that we all make a valid Will – just in case. And if you have been left in the painful position of having a loved one die intestate, contact us to discuss what can be done.