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Warning over changing inheritance rules

The importance of making a Will has been highlighted by a legal expert following an overhaul by the Government.

The Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014 came into force recently, bringing with it a number of changes in the rules which decide who inherits if a person dies without a Will – known as dying intestate – or without completely disposing of their assets under a Will.

Kathryn Harwood, head of the Wills & Estate Planning team at Napthens solicitors, reveals that the key changes include: Where a couple are married with no children, or their children have left no descendants, the whole estate will pass to the surviving spouse. This could mean that the deceased’s family get nothing, a particular problem if a marriage has been short-lived.

Where a couple are married with children, the surviving spouse inherits all personal posessions except those purchased as in investment, and a fixed amount of £250,000 plus half the rest of the estate. Surviving children or descendants take the remaining half of the estate.

Kathryn said: “These changes are intended to simplify the rules, but the result may still not be what a person intended.

“For instance, in the case of second marriages, especially where children are involved, these rules may not be acceptable or fair to the deceased spouse’s children as the rules favour the existing spouse.

“The new rules do allow more scope for people to make a claim against a deceased person’s estate if they feel they have been left a small amount or nothing under a Will, or are not entitled to anything.

“However, the only way to ensure that loved ones are properly looked after following a person’s death is to make a Will.”