News & Insights

Intestacy and trust reform – do the changes suit you?

The Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014 came into force on 1 October 2014. The new law intends to modernise and simplify the sharing of assets under the intestacy rules applying to those who die without a Will (“intestate”) including:

  1. Where the intestate is married or in a civil partnership but does not have children, all assets will now pass to the surviving spouse or civil partner.
  2. Where the intestate is survived by a spouse and children, the survivor will receive the statutory legacy (currently £250,000) plus personal belongings and half the remainder of the estate outright. The remaining half will be held for the intestate’s children.
  3. Unmarried fathers would not inherit under the old law if their child died before them intestate, but from 1st October this rule will not apply if the child’s father’s name appears on the birth certificate. This also relates to any parent named on the birth certificate, including individuals born on or after 6 April 2009 to same sex couples.
  4. The new law ensures that children adopted after the death of their natural (biological) parent inherit from their estate.

These amendments do not alter the position of unmarried couples or step-children who have no automatic right to inherit. It is therefore still important to make a Will setting out exactly how you want your estate to be distributed rather than relying on the intestacy rules.

The changes also recognise more modern family structures and allow for claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 to be brought by a person who was treated as a child of the deceased person whether or not that relationship arose because of a marriage. Claimants no longer need to prove that the deceased contributed significantly to their relationship; the test will now revolve around whether or not the deceased made a substantial contribution to the needs of the individual making the claim.

Please contact our Wills, Trusts and Probate Team for further information on 020 8502 3991.