New intestacy rules – less need to make a will?

On October 1st the rules relating to intestate succession are changing. At present, if a man dies without a will his widow is entitled to his household chattels plus the first £250,000 of his assets. Anything over and above £250,000 is divided into two. The spouse has the right to the income from one half and the children share the other half outright. If there are no children and the estate is over £450,000 the widow has to share the estate with her husband’s other relatives such as the parents or brothers and sisters.

As from October 1st the widow will inherit the first £250,000 outright plus half of anything over that figures. The life interest has been abolished. The children will inherit the other half between them. Where there are no children the spouse will now inherit the entire estate.

So does this mean making a will is no longer so important? No it doesn’t.  Those with a substantial estate may well find more of their estate being given to their children at 18 than they would like. Most couples tend to regard the survivor of them as having first call on the funds and wish to see each other left secure.  Further, the rules do not take the position of stepchildren into account. They are not entitled to inherit anything on intestacy however long they have lived with the deceased.

Making a will is the only way to ensure your money goes where you want it to when you die. It also enables you to postpone the age at which your children gain control of the funds and, if they are minors, to appoint guardians to take care of them. Don’t put it off any longer.