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Changes to the Intestacy Rules ~ October 2014

A person who dies without making a valid will is regarding as having died ‘intestate’ with their estate having to be distributed according to the intestacy rules. Astonishingly over 60% of the UK population have not made a will. 

These rules were first introduced in 1925 but from 1 October 2014 changes to the intestacy rules have been made which are meant to benefit spouses and civil partners and others such as adopted children and unmarried fathers.

Although the changes aim to reflect the needs and expectations of modern families, cohabitees will still have no automatic right to a share of the estate of their deceased partner.

The summaries below identify the main changes to the intestacy rules which came into force on 1 October 2014:

Deceased leaves surviving spouse/civil partner and children:

Previous rules

Applicable from 1 October 2014

Spouse receives:

    • Statutory legacy of £250,000

    • Personal chattels (such as jewellery, clothes, private motor car etc)

    • Life interest in half of residue

Children entitled to remaining half of residue estate at 18

Spouse receives:

    • Statutory legacy of £250,000 (indexed linked)

    • Personal chattels

    • Half of remaining estate outright

Children entitled to remaining half of residue at 18

Deceased leaves a spouse/civil partner but no children:

Previous rules

Applicable from 1 October 2014

Spouse receives:

    • Statutory legacy of £400,000

    • Personal chattels

    • Life interest in half of residue

Parents received half of residue equally (or siblings if no surviving parents) of remaining estate.


Spouse receives the WHOLE of the estate

Other changes applicable from 1 October 2014

  • The definition of ‘chattels’ is updated and clarified to now exclude investments, bank accounts and business assets.

  • A new rule now protects children from the risk of losing an inheritance from a parent in the event that they are adopted after the death of that parent.

  • The rules have been amended that previously disadvantaged unmarried fathers when a child dies intestate.

Avoiding inappropriate distributions of an estate

To avoid the intestacy rules applying and therefore help prevent undesired and inappropriate distributions of a person’s estate you should of course make a valid will (or make a new one following a divorce or the end of a civil partnership) through a qualified solicitor.

Making a will can also help to minimise the amount of Inheritance Tax applying on death, particularly if it is linked to sensible lifetime Inheritance Tax planning.

Further Advice

If you would like Marsh Vision to carry out an estate planning review of your affairs then please arrange a consultation by calling us on 01633 215544 or via email at: contact@marshvision.com

A detailed article on Inheritance Tax and Estate Planning can be accessed on our website by clicking here: