What is intestacy?
“When someone dies without a will, their estate is divided up according to standard rules, known as intestacy law” as described by Which? There are three different sets of rules in the UK: one for England and Wales, a similar set for Northern Ireland and a different set for Scotland.
The rules for England and Wales have been updated, highlighting a little-known aspect of intestacy: a surviving spouse or civil partner does not always inherit all of their deceased husband, wife or civil partner’s estate.
What were the old intestacy rules?
Until 5 February 2020, the English and Welsh rules stated that if your husband, wife or civil partner survived at least 28 days after your death, and you were also survived by children or grandchildren, then your spouse would receive:
- Your personal belongings (car, clothing, jewellery, etc);
- The first £250,000 of your estate
- Half of the remaining estate
Your children or grandchildren would then receive the other half of your estate.
How are the intestacy rules changing?
From 6 February 2020, the £250,000 figure is increasing to £270,000. While this is good news for spouses, it doesn’t solve the problem families can face in dealing with the family home.
If the property is not owned in joint names (as joint tenants), then a surviving spouse may not inherit the family home outright.
An important consideration to remember is that it deals only with couples who are married or in a civil partnership. Anyone who lives with their partner but is not married or in a civil partnership, could be left with nothing after the death of their partner.
Can I get help with making a will?
If you don’t have a will, you should seriously consider making one. And, if you’ve already made one, make sure it’s up to date with your current living situation. The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate will and trust advice.
A lot of people don’t understand inheritance tax planning or the most commonly used terms and phrases. For an expert opinion, get in touch with Alan Boswell Financial Planners on 01603 967967. You can also take our quiz on inheritance tax here.