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New Inheritance Laws Come Into Effect
Radical revisions to the intestacy rules came into force today (October 1) which are aimed at simplifying the issues of inheritance in cases where the deceased has left no will.
The changes, which were made law by the Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act, are expected to modernise and speed-up the inheritance process and bring it in line with other Western countries. In particular, married couples will now have greater access to their spouses’ estate after death in what is regarded as the biggest overhaul to inheritance law since 1926.
“We want to make sure that when someone dies, and they haven’t left a will, their property will be dealt with sensibly and as quickly as possible,” British Minister of State for Justice Edward Faulks said.
The old intestacy rules were viewed by many as convoluted. For example, in cases where a married couple had no children, the remaining spouse was entitled to only a portion of the estate, with the rest being divided amongst blood relatives. Similarly, when a married person died intestate with children, the spouse received 50% of the inheritance and then collected income on half of the remaining portion until their death.
However, under the new rules the spouse would have greater entitlement in both cases: if without children, the spouse would receive all of the inheritance and if the couple had children, they would receive 75% as a capital sum.
The new laws also mean that adopted children will be protected if their parent dies, and will make it far more unlikely that distant relatives will receive inheritance. However, rules concerning the limited rights of co-habitees remain unaltered.
The laws only affect those who die without leaving a will and have an estate worth £250,000 or more.
“I would encourage people of all ages to ensure they have properly considered making a will so that, if the worst happens, their own wishes are followed,” Faulks said.