Statutory Legacy increase for spouses and civil partners

3rd February 2020

The Government has just announced an increase in the amount (the statutory legacy) that a person can inherit if their spouse or civil partner dies, leaving children, but no Will.  From 6 February 2020 the new amount will be £270,000 (an increase of 8% from the current amount of £250,000).

The intestacy rules, which apply if you die not having made a Will, set out that your spouse or civil partner will inherit all of your personal items, assets up to the statutory legacy amount, and half of the remainder of your estate.  The other half is divided equally between your children.

The purpose of the statutory legacy is to put a figure on what it is thought the average person might want to have left their spouse or civil partner, in this situation, had they made a Will.   The statutory legacy aims to protect the interests of the surviving spouse or civil partner whilst also balancing the interests of the children of the deceased.

However, with house prices in the South East averaging over £400,000 does the statutory legacy go far enough to protect the surviving spouse?  If the deceased owned the family home, worth say £400,000 in his own name, his wife would only inherit 84% of the property (being £270,000 plus half of the balance £65,000), the children would inherit the remaining 16%, putting the wife’s ability to continue to live in the property at risk.

Instead of letting the law dictate what happens to your assets, you should make a Will.  By doing so you can state what you want to happen to your assets on your death, who you want to administer your estate and appoint guardians to look after your young children.

For further information regarding statutory legacy or to book at appointment please contact the succession and tax team.  Blake Morgan have a specialist team of experts who can assist you. We can ensure that your Will reflects your wishes for your estate and that your family and other chosen beneficiaries are taken care of.

This article has been co-written by Alison Craggs and Eleanor Catling.

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