The change is only relevant to married couples or civil partners with children. Pardeep Bancil, solicitor in B P Collins’ wills, trusts and probate team, provides an update on what you need to know.

Over 90% adults in England and Wales pass away each year without having made a valid Will. Some people simply don’t have time to make one or don’t want to face the certainty of death, while others don't realise that significant events, such as getting married, can invalidate any will that was made before the wedding.

If you’ve had children with your spouse or civil partner, who then dies without making a will, there are strict intestacy rules, which dictate how their assets will be distributed. Currently, this means you, as the surviving partner, would receive a statutory legacy of £250,000 plus interest from the estate, your deceased partner’s personal belongings and half of the remaining estate.

What’s changing?

On the 6th February 2020 the statutory legacy will be increasing to £270,000 for people whose spouse or civil partner passes away from this date onwards. This may seem like a lot of money, but what if the property you live in is worth more than that and your children are entitled to receive half of anything over that amount. They could force the sale of the property, which could be hugely stressful for the surviving spouse.

To help avoid any family feuds after you’ve gone, the best way to control the distribution of assets is by making a Will to ensure there is adequate provision for your surviving spouse and it will allow them to utilise inheritance tax exemptions.

Unmarried couples

It’s also important to note that unmarried couples, even if they’re living together, are particularly vulnerable without a will. The surviving partner will have no automatic rights to the deceased partner's estate and intestacy rules will determine what happens to their assets. For example, if you have any children together, all of your partner's assets will bypass you and go to your children. If there are no children at the time of your partner's death, the assets will pass to their parents. If the parents are no longer alive, they will to go to brother / sister, half-brother / half-sister, grandparents, uncle/ aunt and so on. If no relatives, however distant, are alive, your partner's assets will pass to the Crown, unless you can prove — which is not easy — that your partner owned an asset (or part of an asset) on your behalf.

If you’re thinking about making will, please contact Pardeep Bancil in the Wills, Trusts and Probate team at who will be able to create a robust and bespoke will tailored to your specific circumstances.

If you would like to bring a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 for financial provision please contact Craig Williams in the dispute resolution team at for further advice. Alternatively, you can call 01753 889995.

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