Personal Law
January 29, 2020

New Statutory Legacy Increase

When an individual dies without having made a Will, they are said to have died intestate. Specific Statutory Rules set out the distribution of an estate in such circumstances.

Currently, where the deceased person left a surviving spouse or civil partner, children and an estate worth over £250,000, the surviving spouse or civil partner receives a ‘Statutory Legacy’, personal possessions and an absolute interest in half the remainder; the other half being divided equally between the surviving children.

The ‘Statutory Legacy’ was last changed when the Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014 came into force on 1st October 2014.

There had been criticism that the Statutory Legacy of £250,000 was not adequate. A spokesman from the Law Society had commented last year:

“Two-thirds of adults in England and Wales pass away each year without having made a valid Will. When it was introduced the Law Society welcomed the simplification of the rules and introduction of a £250,000 Statutory Legacy.

Currently, the main complaint about the size of the Statutory Legacy appears to be that it is not always sufficiently large to ensure the surviving spouse is able to remain in the matrimonial home. It is now time for the figure to be reviewed and updated. An increase in the level should allow the spouse to receive all or the majority of the estate in most cases. However, this is no substitute for taking proper advice and making an appropriate Will.”

The Lord Chancellor has now increased the statutory legacy sum to £270,000 which comes into force on 6th February 2020.

The Law Society President, Simon Davies, commented on the new Statutory Legacy sum and what it will mean for family inheritance:

“If someone dies without making a will – also known as dying intestate – the law determines how much of their estate their spouse or civil partner, children and other relatives will inherit.

“Under intestacy rules, if there are no children, the spouse or civil partner will inherit the entire estate.

“If there are children, a spouse or civil partner will inherit all of the deceased’s personal property, the first £270,000 of the estate and half of the remaining estate – the other half will go to their children.”

This increase is very welcomed, but many people are unaware that under intestacy laws, unmarried partners and close friends cannot inherit.

Writing a legally valid will with the help of an expert solicitor ensures people’s estate is inherited exactly as they would choose and can prevent a whole raft of problems landing on loved ones when they are grieving.

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

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