Changes to the Statutory Legacy for Surviving Spouses or Civil Partners

The Government has recently made a change to the Rules of Intestacy by increasing the statutory legacy which passes to a deceased’s surviving spouse or civil partner where they have children.

This change will affect all couples without valid Wills in place who are either married or in a civil partnership and have children.

What is the Statutory Legacy

Before the change came into force, where a person passes away and leaves a spouse or civil partner and children, the deceased’s spouse or civil partner was entitled to all of the deceased’s personal possessions, the first £250,000.00 of the deceased’s estate (which is known as the statutory legacy), and a half share of the remaining balance above this. The other half of the balance was to be divided equally between the deceased’s children.

The Changes

The Government has promised to review the statutory legacy every five years to make any appropriate amendments. 

Following the most recent review, the Government has increased the statutory legacy to £270,000.00. All other entitlements remain the same (i.e. the personal possessions and half of the value of the estate above the statutory legacy). 

This change to statutory legacy is set to come into force on 6th February 2020.

What Does This Mean for You?

This increase in the statutory legacy is important for all of those that it affects. It means that a surviving spouse or civil partner will receive a larger part of their deceased spouse’s or civil partner’s estate. However, many couples will have wishes which differ to those that are set out under the Rules of Intestacy. 

One important point to note is that the Rules of Intestacy only apply to a deceased’s spouse or civil partner. Therefore, couples who are not married or in a civil partnership do not fall under the Rules of Intestacy and the survivor will not receive any part of the deceased’s estate.

Given the above, we always advise that people have a legally valid Will in place to ensure that their estate is distributed in accordance with their wishes. Having a Will drafted by a legal professional provides you with the peace of mind that your estate will be dealt with correctly on death. This is important not only for the deceased, but also for the deceased’s family and loved ones in a time of loss. 

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