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Change in intestacy rules in England and Wales


Where a person dies intestate (ie without having left a Will) the law prescribes how the estate of the deceased is to be divided. The rules are different around the UK with England & Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland all having different provisions.

For deaths on or after 1 February 2009 the limits to be used in England & Wales have changed. Under the new limits where the deceased leaves a spouse (or registered civil partner) and children, the surviving spouse will receive everything up to £250,000 plus all personal possessions. Anything remaining is divided equally with one half going to any children of the deceased and the other half being left so that the surviving spouse receives the income and on their death the capital passes to the children.

Where the deceased leaves a spouse but no children, the spouse will now receive the first £450,000 plus personal possessions. Anything above that will be split equally with one half to the spouse and the other half to the parents. If there are no parents there is a specified order of relatives to consider. If there are no relatives still alive the surviving spouse will take the whole estate. If there is no surviving spouse (or registered civil partner) but a surviving unmarried (unregistered) partner, they are entitled to absolutely nothing under the intestacy rules. Where the deceased has children they would take the whole estate. If there are no children the estate would pass to the parents etc of the deceased. 

It is vital that if you want to direct where your estate will go that you make a valid  Will to achieve that.

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