Changes to the Rules of Intestacy

When a person dies without leaving a valid will, they are said to have died intestate. In this case, their assets must be distributed according to specific “rules of intestacy” – and these rules have changed from 1 October 2014 pursuant to the Inheritance and Trustees Powers Act 2014 (ITPA 2014).

The New Rules

From 1 October 2014, if a person dies intestate:

  • If there are no children, a surviving spouse or civil partner will now inherit the whole of the deceased’s estate. Other relatives will not be entitled to any share whatsoever.
  • If there are children, a surviving spouse or civil partner will inherit the deceased’s personal possessions, up to £250,000* and one half of any remainder of the estate. The children will be entitled to the other half of the remainder, to be held on trust until they reach the age of 18.  (* This amount will be reviewed at least every five years and will rise in line with the Consumer Prices Index. Interest is also payable on this amount from the date of death to the date when the amount is paid.)
  • Trustees are given powers to use all of the capital and income of a trust to support beneficiaries.  Previously they could only use up to half of the fund for that purpose.
  • So long as his name appears on the birth certificate, a father may now inherit from his child’s estate even if he was not married to the child’s mother at the date of the deceased’s birth.  If a child died intestate before 1 October 2014, a father who was not married at the date of birth had no rights in the estate of his child.
  • It will be easier for dependants to claim financial support from the estate of a deceased partner or parent if they would not otherwise receive anything under the rules of intestacy.

Make a Will

Notwithstanding these changes, it cannot be advisable to hope that the Rules of Intestacy will deal with your estate fairly or as you would have wished.  Therefore we strongly recommend that everyone makes a will.

For further information, please contact:

London West End: Michael Lindley

Clapham: Gemma Townsend

Highgate: Chris Daynes