Intestacy And Family Provision Claims On Death: Update

Following a six-year project by the Law Commission, the Inheritance and Trustees' Powers Act 2014 ("the Act") received Royal Assent in May 2014 and came into force on 1 October. The Act brings changes to the law of inheritance, in particular the Intestacy Rules and family provision claims. This article provides a basic introduction to these changes and addresses their impact.

Intestacy Rules

One of the principal objectives of the Act is to simplify the distribution of an estate when a person dies without making a Will (intestate).The Intestacy Rules specify an order of priority as to who will benefit from the deceased's estate in such circumstances. The principal change to the Intestacy Rules concerns the entitlement of a surviving spouse or civil partner in two situations. Firstly, where the deceased did not leave issue but was survived by at least one parent or at least one full sibling and secondly, where the deceased is survived by issue (i.e. direct descendants of the deceased including children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren etc.)

Under the old law, in the first scenario, where the deceased died without leaving issue but left a surviving spouse, the estate was shared between the spouse and the deceased's parents or siblings. The amended Act removes the entitlement of parents and siblings and instead the whole estate now passes to the surviving spouse absolutely.

In the second scenario, when the deceased dies intestate leaving a spouse and issue, the Act simplifies the distribution of the estate. While there have been no changes to the spouse's entitlement to the deceased's personal effects and a fixed net sum (currently £250,000), rules concerning the residuary estate have been modified. The old rules provided for one half of the residuary estate to be divided equally between the issue and the other half was held on trust. The trust entitled the surviving spouse to receive a life interest in half the residuary estate, namely a right to receive income throughout his or her lifetime, but preserved the underlying capital of that half of the residuary estate for the issue to inherit upon the death of the spouse. The Act removes the life interest and the surviving spouse will now inherit half the residuary estate outright. The other half will continue to pass to the deceased's issue in equal shares.

These changes are likely to provide reassurances to surviving spouses particularly in instances where it will enable the surviving spouse...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT