Increase to the “Statutory Legacy”


Posted on 31 January 2020


What is a “Statutory Legacy”?

“Intestacy” is where you die without a will. If you die intestate the Government rules decide who gets what. A Statutory Legacy is the amount that a spouse or civil partner gets.

Previously the Statutory Legacy was £250,000. The Chancellor has announced that this sum will increase in line with inflation. The changes come into force on 6 February. The new Statutory Legacy will be £270,000. The reason for this change is to keep the Statutory Legacy in line with the Consumer Price Index.

How can you die Intestate?

The main reason is if you haven’t made a will. However, you’d be surprised at the other ways to be intestate. Here is a (non exhaustive) list of the most common ways to die intestate:

  • You didn’t make a will at all;
  • You made a will but forgot to execute it or you executed it incorrectly;
  • You made a will and executed it but the courts found it was invalid due to mental capacity, undue influence or fraud;
  • You made a will but revoked it on purpose e.g. by shredding it;
  • You made a will but revoked it without realising e.g. by marrying;
  • You made a will but lost it;
  • You didn’t deal with your whole estate in the will (also known as “partial intestacy”) because you overlooked something;
  • You were partially intestate because you divorced and didn’t make a new will.

The best way to avoid intestacy is to make sure you’ve made a will and that you keep it up to date. Every major life event should trigger a review e.g. birth, close bereavement, marriage, divorce, moving house etc.

Who gets what in intestacy – how does the Statutory Legacy work?

If you have a spouse or a civil partner then your estate will be split as follows:

  • Statutory Legacy to your spouse or civil partner;
  • 50% of anything left to your spouse or civil partner;
  • Everything else to your children (when they get to 18 years old)

If you don’t have any children, your spouse will inherit 100% under the rules of intestacy.

If you die intestate without a spouse or civil partner your estate will be divided differently. The nearest relative (or set of relatives in the same band) will recieve 100% (split equally if more than one).

  • Children (when they get to 18 years old), but if there are none, then;
  • Parents, but if there are none, then;
  • Siblings, but if they have died then their descendents i.e. nieces and nephews, but if there are none, then;
  • Grandparents, but if there are none, then;
  • Uncles and Aunts, but if they have died then their descendents i.e. cousins; and finally – if there are none of the above;
  • The Crown

How do you avoid intestacy?

The only way to avoid intestacy is to make a will and execute it properly. To make a will you can make a will online at www.makeawillonline.co.uk/. If you need further advice on how to execute a will properly you can find that here: https://www.makeawillonline.co.uk/how-to-sign-execute-a-will/. Finally, if you want to know more about mental capacity issues: https://www.makeawillonline.co.uk/blog/old-age-and-capacity-how-to-protect-your-will-from-challenge/.