Changes in inheritance law give more to spouses and civil partners
Changes in the law regarding intestate estates and inheritance in England and Wales offer new levels of protection to surviving partners when their spouse or civil partner dies without making a will. The changes affect those with an estate valued over the current threshold of £325,000, which given the average houses prices in our part of Hampshire, will include a large majority of local residents.
- If you are married with no children and your spouse had not made a will, as the surviving spouse/partner you can now inherit the entire estate, rather than £450,00 plus half of the remainder as before. This is definitely something that needs to be considered if you are separating or divorcing as it is unlikely that you would want your ex-spouse to receive the majority of your estate.
- If you have children, as the surviving spouse, you will receive the first £250,000 of the estate and half of the remaining estate, rather than just the interest on the remainder as before.
- The law remains unchanged for partners who live together and are not married (co-habitees or so-called common law partners). The surviving partner is not entitled to any part of their partner’s estate, even if they had children together.
The stark truth is that the best way to ensure that at least part of your estate will go to your partner on your demise is to either marry them, or make a will. As this remains an ongoing issue for long term co-habitees, consideration should also be given to appropriate trust deeds and Cohabitation Agreements. This would help in giving surviving partners a degree of protection and security.
Do the rule changes affect what my children might inherit?
The changes do affect children of the deceased, as the increased allocation to the spouse effectively reduces the amount inherited by the children. Experts predict this might lead to a rise in the number of legal disputes over inheritance.
When should I make a will?
At LGFL, we strongly advise all our clients to make a will as soon as they make a major life decision, such as divorce or separation, buying a home, inheriting money or property, getting married or having children. Many young people shy away from writing a will, as it still carries a level of taboo around it regarding one’s mortality. In fact, making a will is a sensible and responsible thing to do, to ensure your wishes are carried out, and reduce the likelihood of disputes amongst your family at a difficult time in their lives.
Can I change my will?
Your will, once written, is not fixed in stone; you can amend it, update it or even completely rewrite it at any time. At LGFL, we can direct you to a network of experienced will drafters who can ensure that your will is clear, comprehensive and above all, legally watertight (unlike some ‘home will kits’ offered for sale in local shops or online).
If you would like advice on any aspects of this please contact us today. Or read this article