Spouses set to inherit more under rule change

28th July 2023

The government has increased the statutory legacy, which is the fixed sum a spouse or civil partner receives where a person dies without a Will. From 26 July 2023, the new allowance will be £322,000.

What is the statutory legacy?

Where a person dies without a Will, they are said to die intestate.  In these circumstances, statute sets out “the intestacy rules”,  which determine how their assets are distributed.

If the person has a spouse or civil partner and children, their assets on intestacy are divided as follows:

  • The spouse or civil partner receives a fixed sum, known as “the statutory legacy”. This has been £270,000 since February 2020, but for deaths on or after 26 July 2023, this will be increased to £322,000;
  • The spouse or civil partner receives all the deceased’s “chattels”. This is defined as tangible moveable property and includes personal effects such as household furniture, clothing and jewellery;
  • The remainder of the estate is then divided in half. One share goes to the spouse or civil partner and the other share is divided between the children.

If someone dies leaving a spouse or civil partner but no children, all their assets go directly to their partner, meaning the statutory legacy does not apply.

What if there is no spouse or civil partner?

If there is no surviving spouse or civil partner, the intestacy rules determine the order in which relatives inherit. You can only inherit if there is no living person in any of the categories above you. The hierarchy is as follows:

  • Children, grandchildren, great grandchildren;
  • Parents;
  • Siblings;
  • Half siblings;
  • Grandparents;
  • Uncles and aunts;
  • Half uncles and aunts.

The intestacy rules are inflexible and take no account of family circumstances. To make your own decisions, you must make a Will that sets out what you would like to happen to your estate on death. You can decide who you would like to inherit your assets and make specific gifts of your property or money. You can also name who should be responsible for administering your estate, set out your wishes for your funeral and appoint guardians to look after any young children.

Blake Morgan have a specialist team who can advise you further on the intestacy rules and assist you in making a Will that ensures your wishes are met.

If you need advice on succession and tax issues

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