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Inheritance laws see first major overhaul in decades

30th September, 2014

This week will see the first major change to inheritance laws in decades with the coming into force of the Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014 on Wednesday 1st October.

The main change will be to the intestacy provisions which set out who should benefit from a deceased’s estate when they die without making a will. The old rules provided for a share of the estate to held on trust for a surviving spouse to benefit from the income during their lifetime and thereafter the capital would pass to the deceased’s children. The new rules are more generous to the surviving spouse in that the trust is now abolished and the spouse receives the capital outright.

For some this change fails to give enough recognition to the children of the deceased, particularly where there is a second marriage and could potentially result in more claims for financial provision being brought by dis-satisfied family members.

Such claims could be brought under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents Act) 1975 which allows certain individuals to make a claim for reasonable financial provision from an estate. This Act also receives a makeover this week and in recognising that many modern families look rather different than they did in 1975, extends the categories of individuals entitled to claim in the following ways:

  • A person ‘treated as a child of the family’ is entitled to claim whether or not to treatment is in relation to a marriage to which the deceased was a party to.
  • A person will qualify as being maintained by the deceased if the deceased made a substantial contribution to that person’s reasonable needs other than under a commercial arrangement.

These changes to the rules will mean that more individuals will find that they are entitled to bring a claim against a deceased’s estate where the deceased did not provide for them. It is therefore important that anyone involved in an estate, be they executors, beneficiaries or family members, take appropriate advice as soon as possible.

If you would like an initial consultation about an estate claim please contact James Wallace on 01244 405555 or email [email protected]

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