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Wills In The News, Developments In UK Wills Law During 2013

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Wills In The News, Developments In UK Wills Law During 2013

Author : Andrew Collier   Top Author

Submitted : 2014-01-01 12:15:29    Word Count : 4    Popularity:   Not Rated

Tags:   legal, wills, testament, write, author, news, development, law, 2013

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Making a Will is a vital step in making sure your family are well protected after you are gone but unfortunately, it's not a task that once completed can be totally forgotten about.


Changes in your circumstances, or changes in the law, can mean that you need to revisit the provisions you have made and consider whether your Will needs to be updated or amended.


We take a look at what's happened to intestacy laws during 2013 and any impending developments.


What is intestacy and why is it so relevant?


Although making a Will is one of the simplest provisions you can make, around two out of three adults in the UK have not gotten around to making one.


This means that regardless of how big or small their estate, it will be dealt with in accordance with the laws of intestacy. Intestacy refers to the situation which arises when an individual dies without leaving a valid Will.


The current intestacy laws set out strictly who can be paid, in what order and how much each person can receive (in some cases). As a general rule, there are no allowances for family friends or how close you were to certain family members.


The intestacy rules are set out in the Administration of Estates Act 1925.


Inheritance and Trustee Powers Bill


Like any part of the law, the current intestacy rules have gradually become outdated and do not adequately provided for many modern situations.


For this reason, the Inheritance and Trustee Powers Bill has been drawn up following a report drawn up by the Law Commission in 2011.


The Inheritance and Trustee Powers Bill has not yet passed through Parliament but has been through its second reading in the House of Lords and will shortly go before the Committee.


This means that the final draft of the Bill is yet to be passed and could yet undergo substantial changes before it becomes law.


The proposed changes to intestacy rules


The draft Inheritance and Trustee Powers Bill sets out to simplify the existing rules around intestacy, increasing rights and powers for spouses but disappointingly for some, not including co-habitees in the new rules.


Under the existing rules, an individual who died leaving a spouse but no children would see their estate split between their partner and their parents and/or siblings. The Bill seeks to simplify this situation, cutting out the parents and the siblings from the arrangement and merely allowing the spouse to inherit the entire estate.


For cases where no Will was left and there is a spouse and children, the Bill also sets out to make the arrangements rather less complex. Under current law, the spouse may inherit up to 250,000 plus the chattels, as well as a lifetime interest in half of the residual estate. The remaining half passes to the children.


This can be a difficult situation as it can mean that a property of asset is effectively held in Trust until the spouse's death, allowing them to benefit or generate an income, but not permitting the disposal of the capital asset. The Bill proposes that this 'lifetime interest' element be removed, thereby allowing the estate to be distributed on a permanent basis straight away.


Children who are adopted after a parent's death and unmarried fathers are also currently not adequately provided for under the law. The Bill amends this situation and provides them both with greater rights.





Changes are also in the draft to ensure that a claim under the family provision can be made by an individual who was treated a child, but was not a blood relation not legally adopted. Until now, to qualify under these criteria, the said 'child' could only claim in households where there was either a civil partnership or married. The Bill if passed would remove these stipulations.


But not everything suggested by the Law Commission has been incorporated into the Inheritance and Trustee Powers Bill.


The original report suggested that the new Bill also made provisions for couple who had been cohabiting for at least five years, or had a child together and had been cohabiting for at least two years. The proposal was for these individuals to be given the same rights as spouses in recognition of the changing patterns in society.


However, the suggested changes regarding co-habitees has not been adopted by government and will not form part of the Bill. For the 2 million couples in the UK which are currently cohabiting, this means that making a Will is as important as ever as if their partner dies, they have zero rights under current or proposed intestacy law.


Conclusion


Although this is a change to UK Wills and intestacy that hasn't quite made it into law yet, substantial progress has been made during 2013. However, anyone who was hoping for the proposed Bill to make the sweeping changes originally suggested may end up disappointed and underlines the importance of making a Will and keeping it up to date.


Image credits: lynnefeatherstone and stevendepolo


An article by Peter Ferris, he recommends visiting http://www.tollers.co.uk/page/contesting-challenging-will to keep abreast of the latest wills news. This is also an excellent place to talk to Lawyers about writing your own Will and Testament.


An article by Peter Ferris, he recommends visiting http://www.tollers.co.uk/page/contesting-challenging-will to keep abreast of the latest wills news. This is also an excellent place to talk to Lawyers about writing your own Will and Testament.

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An article by Peter Ferris, he recommends visiting http://www.tollers.co.uk/page/contesting-challenging-will to keep abreast of the latest wills news. This is also an excellent place to talk to Lawyers about writing your own Will and Testament.

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