Intestacy laws brought up to date - Palmers Solicitors

Intestacy laws brought up to date

New laws simplifying what happens when someone dies without leaving a will have come into effect.

The changes, made in the new Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act, were implemented on 1 October and include:

  • when someone who has no children dies intestate – without making a will – their whole estate will pass to their spouse. Previously, in some circumstances part of the estate would have gone to other family members
  • when someone dies intestate and they do have children, the way their estate is split between their spouse and children will be simplified and increased provision will be made for the spouse, at the expense of the children
  • greater protection for the rights of a child of the deceased to inherit, even if he or she is adopted after their parent’s death.

Justice Minister Lord Faulks said: “We want to make sure that when someone dies, and they haven’t left a will, their property will be dealt with sensibly and as quickly as possible. That is why we have made these common sense changes to modernise the law and make administering an estate faster and easier.

“A large number of people do die without leaving a will each year, and I would encourage people of all ages to ensure they have properly considered making a will so that, if the worst happens, their own wishes are followed.”

According to research published in September by, 57 per cent of UK adults have yet to make a will.

Andrew Caplen, president of the Law Society, which represents solicitors in England and Wales, said: “The changes to the intestacy rules serve as a reminder of the importance of having a will. Dying without a valid will not only means your final wishes may go unheeded, but a financial and emotional mess is left for your loved ones to sort out. This need not be your final legacy.

“As the law currently stands anyone can set themselves up as a ‘will writer’. It is important consumers are able to distinguish between those who are unregulated, uninsured and untrained, and solicitors who specialise in this area and offer a quality service. For full consumer protection the only prudent choice is to instruct a solicitor to prepare a will.”

Lee McClellan, partner in Palmers’ Wills, Trusts and Probate team, said: “As well as making a will, it is equally important to regularly review and update it, if necessary, to reflect changing circumstances.

“For example, if a married couple separate after making their will<!–>s, they may then want to redraft these so that children or other beneficiaries receive assets left to their husband or wife in their original will. For more information, please contact our Wills, Trusts and Probate team.”