New Intestacy Rules 2014


The Intestacy Rules are the set of rules which are followed if a person does not make a will. If you die without making a will, you are said to die intestate. Changes to these rules came into force on the 1st October 2014 by way of the newly enacted Inheritance and Trustees Powers Act 2014.

All the changes that were initially proposed have not been implemented and it therefore highlights the importance of making a will. Although there have been some beneficial changes, there are still many inadequacies in the rules. It is impossible to draw up a set of rules to work for every modern family, therefore a professionally drafted will is still your best option.

The main changes are as follows;

  1. Married couples and civil partners who die without having children will now receive the entire estate of the deceased spouse or civil partner. Before the changes they would receive the first £450,000 from the estate and the rest would be split between the deceased’s blood relatives, usually parents or siblings.
  2. Married couples and civil partners who die leaving children will now receive the first £250,000 of the estate and the personal chattels, together with half of the remainder. The children will receive half of any amount over £250,000, once they reach the age of 18. Before the changes the surviving spouse would receive the first £250,000 and then half of the remainder under a life interest, the children having the other half. The life interest element has now been abolished.

It is important to note at this stage that there are still no rights for unmarried couples under the Intestacy Rules. It is a common misconception that there are rights for a ‘common law husband or wife’. It is therefore extremely important that unmarried couples consider making a will, to ensure that their loved ones are provided for.
If you die without a spouse, civil partner or children your estate will still be passed along your blood line as before; parents, siblings, aunts and uncles.

In brief, some of the other changes are as follows;

  1. There are changes for unmarried fathers. The current rule, for a child whose parents are unmarried at the time of the child’s birth, is that if that child dies intestate the estate is distributed as if the child’s father and his family dies before the child. Therefore, all the estate would go to the mother. This rule no longer applies as long as the child’s father’s name appears on the birth certificate.
  2. The definition of personal chattels has changed, although it is important to note that this still does not include any assets held for the purposes of a business and some moveable items considered as an investment.
  3. Claims on Estates – the new law now recognises that a claim may be made by a person who was treated as a child of the deceased. This could therefore include a situation where the deceased was the unmarried partner of the parent of the child.

If you would like any further information, then please telephone us to arrange an appointment with a Solicitor from our experienced team.

Remember there are many other reasons why making or updating a Will is important;

    1. If you have children you should include a guardianship provision in your will. This will ensure that you choose who would look after your children if you die while they are under 18.
    2. If you have pets, you can decide what should happen to them.
    3. If you marry, any current will is revoked. It is important that you make a new will, following your marriage or in expectation of your marriage.
    4. If you have divorced, you should update your will to reflect your new circumstances.
    5. If you are unmarried, then as stated above, the law does not recognise the relationship. Making a will ensures that your wishes are followed.

You can detail your specific funeral plans in your will.

09 December 2014


The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published.Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances

Posted in: