Important Change in Statutory Legacy Gifting: A Reminder of the Importance of Having a Will

Here at Prestige Legal Services, we want to bring to your attention the recent change in statutory legacy gifting, which took effect from Wednesday, 26th July. This change has significant implications for many families in the future and serves as a crucial reminder of why having a Will in place is essential.

Understanding Statutory Legacy:

The statutory legacy is the sum to which a surviving spouse/civil partner is entitled from the estate when the deceased dies intestate, i.e., without having made a valid Will, and leaves behind children. In other words, if someone passes away without a Will and has children, their surviving spouse or civil partner is legally entitled to a portion of the estate.

Intestacy Rules in England and Wales:

When someone dies without a valid Will, their estate is distributed according to intestacy rules, which are legal guidelines governing the distribution of assets. In England and Wales, the intestacy rules prioritise close family members in the distribution of the estate.

If the deceased is survived by a spouse or civil partner and has children, the spouse or civil partner is entitled to:

  1. The Personal Possessions: The surviving spouse/civil partner has the right to inherit personal possessions, regardless of their value. These may include items like jewellery, furniture, and other personal belongings.
  2. A Statutory Legacy: As discussed earlier, the surviving spouse/civil partner is entitled to a fixed sum called the statutory legacy from the deceased’s estate. The statutory legacy has undergone recent changes, and its current value stands at £322,000.
  3. Half of the Remaining Estate: After receiving the personal possessions and the statutory legacy, the surviving spouse/civil partner is entitled to half of the remaining estate’s value. The other half is distributed equally among the deceased’s children.

Significance of the Increase in Statutory Legacy:

The recent increase in the statutory legacy from £270,000 to £322,000 is an important development. This change reflects the government’s recognition of the changing economic landscape and the need to provide surviving spouses/civil partners with adequate financial support.

In essence, the increase ensures that the surviving spouse/civil partner receives a more substantial portion of the estate when their partner dies without a will and leaves behind children. This adjustment is aimed at offering better financial protection and support to families during difficult times.

Impact of the Change:

The increase in the statutory legacy impacts the distribution of assets in cases where individuals die intestate with children. The higher sum ensures that surviving spouses/civil partners can inherit a more significant portion of the estate, providing them with increased financial stability and resources.

The change will benefit many families by easing the financial burden that may arise from the loss of a loved one. It can help ensure that surviving spouses/civil partners have the necessary funds to support themselves and their children after the death of a partner.

The Importance of Having a Will:

While the recent change in statutory legacy gifting is a positive step, it highlights the critical importance of having a valid Will in place. Creating a Will allows individuals to have control over how their assets will be distributed after their passing, ensuring their wishes are followed.

Having a Will is especially vital for those who want to allocate specific assets or provide for individuals who would not be covered under the intestacy rules. Moreover, a Will can help avoid potential disputes among family members and provide peace of mind to the testator knowing that their wishes will be respected.

In conclusion, the recent change in statutory legacy gifting represents a positive shift towards better financial protection for surviving spouses/civil partners in cases of intestacy with children. This change reminds us all of the importance of having a Will in place to ensure that our assets are distributed according to our wishes and to provide security and support to our loved ones after we are gone. At Prestige Legal Services, we are here to assist you and your clients in creating a comprehensive and legally binding Will that safeguards their interests and the future of their family.