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Inheritance law changes put in place


The rules surrounding inheritance law have been updated, and they will now give spouses and civil partners more rights when a deceased partner hasn't written a will.

Before the rules were changed, a married couple with no children would not be able to leave their entire estate to a spouse without writing a will. In the case that a will was not written, the law stated that the surviving partner would receive the first £450,000 of the estate; the rest would then be split equally between the surviving partner and the rest of the family.

However, the new rules mean that married couples with no children will be able to leave their entire estate to their partner without making a will. This means that the rest of the family would not be entitled to any of the deceased’s estate, unless a will has been written.

The change to the law will also affect married couples with children. New rules mean that the surviving partner will receive the first £250,000 of their partner’s estate, and half of the remainder. Previously, the partner would have received the first £250,000 and the rest would be locked away, with any interest earned paid to the surviving partner.

This money would remain locked away until the surviving partner died, at which point the sum would be given to the children.

Clive Coleman, legal correspondent for the BBC said that inheritance law had “changed little in the last century”, and that these new changes will help those who previously found it “difficult” to get the inheritance they deserve.

Legal questions

Despite the rules changes being intended to make inheritance law fairer, some experts have commented that questions have been raised, as it is possible that even more legal disputes could arise.

Paula Myers, from law firm Irwin Mitchell said: "While much of the new legislation undoubtedly brings the law on wills into the 21st Century, there are aspects which raise questions and could in the long term lead to an increase in the number of legal disputes launched regarding inheritance issues."

One fear is that children who would have benefited under the old rules could raise their own legal disputes, in an attempt to receive a bigger share of their parents inheritance.

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