New rules came into force on 1 October 2014 in relation to inheritance, which could affect those either married or in a civil partnership but who do not yet have a Will.
Under the law of England and Wales we have what is known as testamentary freedom. This means that the testator is free to leave their estate to whomever they choose. There is no forced succession as there is in other countries such as France and Scotland. As a result unfairness can arise. When somebody dies without a Will it is known as dying intestate. Their estate will be divided according to the intestacy rules. This situation should be avoided as the division is arbitrary and again, unfairness can arise.
The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (the 1975 Act) aims to temper this potential unfairness by allowing dependants of the deceased to make a claim for financial provision if they have not been sufficiently provided for. Claims can be made both where the deceased died leaving a Will and where they died intestate. There are restrictions on who can claim and under what circumstances.
The Inheritance and Trustees Powers Act 2014 amended (amongst other things) the 1975 Act and the intestacy rules.
The following summarise the key changes:
It is estimated that approximately half of the adult population in England and Wales have not made a Will. However, if the new provisions in relation to intestacy do not reflect a persons wishes, perhaps most relevant when parties have separated but not yet divorced or dissolved their partnership, then it is important to ensure that a valid Will has been drawn up.
If you would like to discuss preparing or updating a will then please contact Ruth Mason on ruth.mason@TLTsolicitors.com or +44 (0)333 006 0524.
If you would like to discuss any issue relating to separation please contact Natalie Drew on natalie.drew@TLTsolicitors.com or +44 (0)333 006 0603.
This publication is intended for general guidance and represents our understanding of the relevant law and practice as at October 2014. Specific advice should be sought for specific cases; we cannot be held responsible for any action (or decision not to take action) made in reliance upon the content of this publication.
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