Inheritance law changes in force from 1st October
Changes to the rights of people whose spouses, or civil partners, die without making a will have come into force.
The changes apply in England and Wales and will effect you if you are:
- A married couple with no children. The surviving partner/spouse will now inherit the entire estate. Previously, the law stated that the spouse’s inheritance was limited to £450,000 and half of the rest of the estate. The other half was split between the deceased’s blood relatives including any surviving parents.
- A couple with children. The spouse who survives receives the first £250,000 as previously. As from 1st October, however, they will now receive half the remainder outright, instead of just a life interest in half the remainder, with the balance going to the children. A life interest meant that the surviving spouse could not have access to the capital but, just an income from the money.
The new rules which, became law within the Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act include a number of other changes, which the Government believes will make the system fairer.
As someone dealing with estates and inheritance matters, I have my worries that new legislation has the potential for greater legal disputes around inheritance issues, not less. They do not protect couples who have not married or entered into a civil partnership, however long, or devoted their relationship. Previously, children who would have received more of the estate left by their parents, not less!
It becomes even more essential for peopled to make a will now rather, than leaving matters to chance!
Caroline Phelan, Partner