New Inheritance Laws ‘A Step Forward, But Not Enough’

Wills Experts React To Legislation Coming Into Force On October 1st


The measures set to be introduced as part of the Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014 at the start of October are an important step forward but do not do enough to properly reflect the modern world, according to legal experts specialising in wills.

Set to be introduced from October 1st, amongst the new measures are changes to how the estate of a person who dies intestate – without making a will – is handled. In addition, further amendments will mean a person would be able to claim against the estate of their parent’s late partner regardless of whether they were married or in situations where the person who acted as a parent was single.

It also closes a loophole which has meant that children lose an interest and a right to inherit from an estate when they turn 18 if they are adopted prior to reaching that age.

Lawyers in Irwin Mitchell’s specialist Wills team, who have vast experience in helping clients to put plans in place for the future, have described the range of changes as welcome – but warned that they do not deal with every eventuality.

Expert Opinion
The Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014 includes numerous changes which are designed to ensure that current legislation on wills, trusts and estates are fit for purpose in the 21st century.

"While many of the changes can be welcomed, there remain many questions about whether more could have been done to improve regulations and ensure they truly reflect modern society.

"As modern family life becomes more complex due to people separating and going on to remarry, the provisions have not yet kept pace and still fail to properly address many issues.

"In addition, considering that 5.9 million people were cohabiting in the UK in 2012, it is worrying that this very significant section of society does not have an increased level legal protection. Quite simply, if they pass away intestate their partner will not receive or be entitled to any level of inheritance and may need to bring a claim against their late partner’s estate to receive what they are due.

"However, one thing that remains absolute is the simple, basic fact that the only way that person can take significant steps towards guaranteeing that their wishes will be met after death is to ensure that a comprehensive legally sound will, written with advice from experts, is in place.

"Failing to plan for the future not only means your wishes are unlikely to be met, but also means your loved ones could be left facing time-consuming and emotionally draining legal battles in order to access the inheritance they deserve."
Gillian Coverley, Partner