Amendments to the Intestacy Rules – What will happen if you die without leaving a will

When a person dies without leaving a valid will, their estate must be shared out according to certain rules – these are called the intestacy rules.

The Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014 comes into force on Wednesday 1 October 2014 and the new act makes some key changes to the rules of intestacy in England and Wales.

The main effect of the act is to abolish the life interest trust of the spouse established by the Administration of Estates Act 1925. In future, the surviving spouse of an intestate with children will get the £250,000 statutory legacy, the deceased’s personal chattels and half the balance of the remaining estate outright. Children or other descendants share the other half of the balance.

Furthermore, the act provides that the spouse of an intestate without issue will, in future, inherit the whole estate.

The Law Society (England and Wales) notes that both of the new rules apply even to estranged spouses or civil partners. This, it says, makes it even more necessary for people to instruct a solicitor to prepare a will.