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Statutory legacies: what’s mine is yours… but only if there is a will

The statutory legacy will soon be raised from £270,000 to £322,000.

From 26 July 2023 the statutory legacy will be raised from £270,000 to £322,000.

What is the statutory legacy?

If you die intestate (that is, without leaving a valid will), the law dictates who will receive the assets of your estate. In essence, you lose the right to decide. These rules are referred to as the intestacy rules and, in most cases, do not result in the desired effect. However, the rules are necessary to provide a clear framework as to the distribution of estates where there is no will.

Intestacy rules

By way of an example of the intestacy rules, if you die leaving no will, a spouse (or civil partner) and a child or children, your spouse will only receive:

  1. assets of your estate to the value of £322,000 (the new, increased statutory legacy)
  2. your household contents and personal possessions and
  3. a 50% share of any remaining assets.

The remaining 50% of the estate will pass outright to any biological children you have. Those children will inherit equally when they reach the age of 18.

This will come as a surprise to some who assume that their entire estate will automatically pass to their spouse in the event of their death.

It is also worth noting that if you die leaving no Will and you are not married (or in a civil partnership) your partner will not inherit anything at all. The intestacy rules make no provision for unmarried partners.

Make a will

Although the increase of the statutory legacy will be seen as a positive step, passing away without a will will still result in uncertainty and unintended consequences for many. It will continue to result in unexpected inheritance tax liabilities and expense.

The only way to guarantee that your loved ones are protected is to make a will.

Weightmans Private Wealth team can help to guide you through the estate planning process. We can provide you with clear explanations and peace of mind. We can talk to you, explain your options, and create a bespoke will for you which will make life easier for your family when you have gone.

If you have any questions or if you think that a discussion would be helpful to you, please feel free to contact our private wealth lawyers.

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