What you think happens, might eventually happen

The government is consulting on reforms to intestacy

What happens if you die leaving only your spouse/civil partner, no children and no will?

You might imagine that everything goes to the survivor, but currently that is not always the case. Under the intestacy rules for England and Wales, a surviving spouse/civil partner would receive:

  • Personal chattels;
  • £450,000 outright; and
  • One of half the residue outright.

The other half of the residue would go to your parent(s), failing whom your siblings or, if they have predeceased you, their offspring. The rules in Northern Ireland are very similar, while Scotland has its own distinctly Scottish regime.

The Ministry of Justice is now proposing to reform English and Welsh intestacy rules, so that where there are no children, the surviving spouse will inherit the whole estate. There are also revisions planned for the estate distribution when there are children involved.

The ministry says that its proposed changes will “ensure the laws on intestacy become closer aligned with public expectations”. However, any reform will not alter the fact that an up to date will that’s spells out what you want is a better course of action than relying on the state’s interpretation via the intestacy rules.

Your will is up to date, isn’t it..?


1st November 2013