Changes to the law of intestacy come into effect

15 October, 2014
by: Cripps Pemberton Greenish

The Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014, which came into force on 1 October 2014, has brought about a number of changes to the law of intestacy (where individuals die without leaving a Will).

By way of summary the main changes to the law are as follows.

  • For married couples, the surviving spouse (either the husband or the wife) will now inherit the deceased’s entire estate in cases where there are no children or descendants. Where the deceased has left a spouse and children/descendants the surviving spouse will inherit the deceased’s personal chattels and a statutory legacy of £250,000 plus half of any balance of the estate. The surviving children/descendants in this situation would inherit the remaining half on statutory trusts;
  • Changes have been made to the rules that had previously disadvantaged fathers of children where the child had predeceased their father without a Will;
  • The changes look to protect an adopted child’s contingent interest (an interest that does not take effect until a particular condition has been met) in an estate where a parent has died before the adoption has taken place;
  • The definition of personal chattels has been updated and modernised to include all tangible, movable property with a few exceptions; and
  • The powers of trustees has been reformed in relation to how the trustees are able to apply trust income and capital;

The Act has implemented most of the recommendations made by the Law Commission in a report published in 2011. For a look at the BBC’s coverage of the changes to the law please use the following link: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-29436533