Increase in the Statutory Legacy sum

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According to recently published data as many as three in five adults in the UK do not have a Will. There seems to be a long standing misconception amongst the adult population that Will writing is something exclusively reserved for those who are either old or in poor health. Many people do not appreciate the potential unpleasant and unintended consequences of passing away without making a valid Will.

Under the current law in England and Wales when someone dies intestate (without a Will) what will happen to their estate is governed by the intestacy rules. What many people do not appreciate is that the intestacy laws do not reflect the constantly changing and complex family structures in today’s society. For example, if the deceased leaves behind a long term partner to whom they were never married or with whom they did not enter into a civil partnership, the surviving partner will not be entitled to receive anything from the estate at all. In an intestacy scenario, the assets often pass to people whom the deceased may not necessarily have wanted to benefit.

According to the existing legislation, when someone dies intestate leaving a surviving spouse or civil partner and children, the surviving spouse/civil partner will be entitled to receive the so called Statutory Legacy which currently stands at £270,000, plus the deceased’s personal chattels. The remainder of the estate will then be divided into two equal shares with the spouse/civil partner receiving one share and the surviving children receiving the rest of the estate, which they will then share equally between them.

The government has confirmed that, from 26th July 2023, the Statutory Legacy will increase to a fixed sum of £322,000. The increase in the Statutory Legacy amount is designed to help bereaved families during a difficult and emotional time. The change has been accelerated by the current cost of living crisis and rising inflation. In reaching its decision the government looked, amongst other things, at the average house price in England and Wales which currently stands at just over £286,000. The existing Statutory Legacy of £270,000 may not be enough in the current climate to ensure that the average property passes to the surviving spouse if the deceased owned the family home in their sole name and left a spouse and children. It is worth noting that, in some cases, there will be children from previous relationships and this could mean that a sale of the deceased’s property becomes necessary to satisfy the children’s entitlement. The surviving spouse could very quickly find themselves in a rather precarious position as they may be forced to find a new home during their period of grief. The legislators hope that the new figure of £322,000 will help many bereaved families. This revised Statutory Legacy sum should offer greater security and certainty for the surviving spouses and civil partners and achieve a fairer outcome for all. However, the best possible way in which all of us can protect the people we love after we are gone is to make a valid Will.

Should you wish to seek further information about the Will drafting services that we offer at Taylor Walton then please do not hesitate to contact our dedicated and experienced Private Client Team and they will be very happy to help.

Disclaimer: General Information Provided Only
Please note that the contents of this article are intended solely for general information purposes and should not be considered as legal advice. We cannot be held responsible for any loss resulting from actions or inactions taken based on this article.

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