In this blog, we aim to shed light on an aspect of estate planning that often surprises many individuals: what happens to the estate when someone passes away without a valid will? Specifically, we’ll focus on the rights of surviving spouses or civil partners under the Intestacy Rules and the upcoming changes to the statutory legacy.
| Understanding Intestacy and the Statutory Legacy
When a person passes away without leaving a will, their estate is distributed according to the Rules of Intestacy. In this situation, surviving spouses or civil partners may assume that they automatically inherit everything. However, the reality is different, and that’s where the statutory legacy comes into play.
| What will a spouse receive under the Rules of Intestacy?
If the deceased person didn’t have any children, grandchildren or other descendants, the surviving spouse or civil partner will be entitled to the whole estate.
If there are children or other descendants, things get a bit more complicated. This is when the statutory legacy comes into play and the spouse doesn’t receive the whole estate.
The surviving spouse or civil partner will be entitled to:
- Personal chattels (personal possessions like furniture, jewellery, vehicles and household items);
- The statutory legacy (currently £270,000); and
- Half of the remaining estate.
The children or descendants will then be entitled to what remains.
| Increase to the statutory legacy
On 26 July 2023, the statutory legacy will be increased to £322,000. This is to keep the amount inline with inflation and the increased cost of living.
| Seeking Legal Advice and Planning Ahead
The outcome when the statutory legacy comes into play isn’t usually what somebody would specifically want to happen to their estate. This is just one of the many reasons why having an up to date, professionally made will is so important.
Planning ahead is crucial to ensure that your wishes are respected and your loved ones are financially protected. By creating a valid will, you have the power to determine how your estate will be distributed. This proactive step allows you to make decisions that align with your values, priorities, and the needs of your surviving spouse or civil partner.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the changes to the statutory legacy or your estate planning needs, don’t hesitate to contact us. Call us today on 0800 988 7756 or book an appointment online.