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Government increases statutory legacy to £270,000 – what does this mean for your family?

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If you have not made a will and you have children, you may be surprised to hear that your spouse or civil partner may not automatically inherit all of your fortune. Instead, they will receive a statutory legacy and half of the rest as dictated by the intestacy laws. The good news is that the government has announced that the statutory legacy sum for spouses will be increased from £250,000 to £270,000 from 6 February 2020. (Please note that this is separate to inheritance tax rates or thresholds).

Stephen Myers, director and head of wills and probate at Myers & Co Solicitors in Burslem, Stoke on Trent, explains how the intestacy laws and statutory legacies works and why most people are still strongly advised to make sure they have a valid will before they die.

The intestacy laws only come into play if you have died without leaving a valid will.

Under the intestacy laws, if the deceased does not have any children their spouse or civil partner inherits the entire estate. However, if there are children, the estate has to be divided as follows:

  1. The surviving spouse or civil partner is entitled to inherit all personal chattels and a statutory legacy, which is the first £270,000 of assets as of 6 February 2020.
  2. The remainder of the estate is divided in half. One half will go to the surviving spouse or civil partner, the other half will be divided equally between the children.

If this is not what you would want for your family, then you should set out your intentions by making a will with a solicitor. They can advise you on the best way to structure your will to ensure your loved ones are protected and provided for after your death. They can also ensure that your will is correctly drafted and witnessed so it is valid, as well as offer advice on trusts and inheritance tax planning measures that are appropriate.

Unmarried couples are not covered by the intestacy laws, and if one of you dies the other will not automatically inherit any of your assets unless you have made a will to the contrary.

‘All families should take legal advice, whatever the size of their portfolio, to ensure that they decide who inherits and in what order when they die’, says Stephen.

‘Building a strategy to review your assets with a lawyer on a regular basis is the best way forward, as your family circumstances can change at any time and your will should keep up with life-changes.’

Speak to us today for further information about making or updating your will, advice on inheritance tax planning and estate management. Contact Stephen Myers on 01782 525007 or email stephen.Myers@myerssolicitors.co.uk.

 

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.

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