Increase To Amount Due To Spouses and Civil Partners Comes Into Force On 6 February
The amount of money that can be inherited under intestacy laws is set to change for individuals who are married or in a civil partnership, in line with the government’s promises to keep the figure regularly reviewed.
The government has agreed to increase the statutory legacy amount for spouses and civil partners from £250,000, a figure set in October 2014, to £270,000. The increase will come into effect from 6 February.
When someone dies without a will in place, intestacy laws are set into motion for any assets they have in their name (or any share of an asset they might have jointly owned as tenants in common).
If the deceased has a spouse or civil partner and no other heirs, intestacy laws dictate the spouse gets the whole estate. When the deceased has children as well as a spouse or civil partner, this is when statutory legacy is applied.
The statutory legacy will be payable to the deceased’s spouse or civil partner, with any remaining estate funds held in trust for the surviving spouse and the children.
Experts at leading national law firm Irwin Mitchell welcome the increase, but warn that having a will in place is the safest way to ensure assets are passed down in line with the wishes of the owner – and not left to the mercy of intestacy.
Expert Opinion“It is good to see the government keeping its promise to review the statutory legacy, which will improve the financial outcome for a surviving spouse or civil partner after they are reeling from the loss of a loved one.
“However, we would still encourage everyone to make a will or review an existing will to avoid intestacy and ensure that they have full control over the distribution of their assets and understand the tax implications of this.
“Another vital thing to remember is that the intestacy provisions do not apply to unmarried or cohabiting couples. Those in this situation should absolutely consider speaking to a solicitor about drawing up a will, or risk a will dispute at an already devastating time for their families.” Sophia Parkes - Associate Solicitor
Research from insurer Royal London found six in ten parents do not have a will in place or one that is out of date, while the latest statistics from the government show the median total household wealth in April 2016 to March 2018 was £286,000 – increasing the likelihood of bringing the intestacy rules into play.