The Financial Time’s discusses the proposed changes to inheritance laws in a recent article by Lucy Warwick-Ching titled ‘Inheritance reforms favor Spouses’ which concerns how following the reforms, spouses or civil partners will have a better stance in a situation where a person dies intestate, or in other word, where there is no Will instrument in place . Where a person dies intestate, it is the law of intestacy that dictates how any wealth left behind is to be distributed. And it is the reform of such rules that now jeopardises the position of children receiving an inheritance and favors that of spouses.
In fact, according to the draft legislation published by the Government, spouses or civil partners will become the main beneficiary of an estate where a person dies intestate. The proposed changes would clearly increase the surviving partner’s share of the estate and make them the sole beneficiary if there were no children. Further, no longer will relatives, including siblings, parents and cousins be automatically entitled to inherit part of the estate of someone who dies intestate.
On the contrary, it would certainly reduce the need for complicated trust structures that were previously used to provide income to surviving partners while also providing for children. Matthew Evans has commented that some may be concerned that the new rules give ‘too much priority to the surviving spouse, especially when there has been a second or third marriage which means that the children will share a smaller final pot.’
Such priority given to the spouse of civil partner may be at the expense of children losing out in the long run, however it also questions the perfection of the reforms as it merely creates new winners and losers.
The consultation is due to end on May 2.
Colin Snaith of Douglas Wemyss Solicitors comments:
“The proposed reforms make it even more important, not less, to make a Will. You then decide how your estate is to be divided up and not the Court. Further, there are no proposals to change the current situation with regard to co-habitating couples, i.e. those neither married or in a civil partnership. If you are in that situation then you have absolutely no rights over your partner’s assets should he/she die – the law dictates those assets will go anywhere but to the surviving partner! So again it is vital that you make a Will.
We at Douglas Wemyss offer a free consultation either here at our offices or in your own home, and will then give you a fixed price to draft your Will(s). So call today to make an appointment (0116) 2999199