Why Wills Matter: Intestacy Rules Change Delay

The intestacy rules for England and Wales have been changed…belatedly and with real consequences for some estates. 

If you do not have a valid will then the decisions about what happens to your estate on your death are governed by the laws of intestacy. These may not work as you might hope or expect them to. The rules differ between England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, but in all three jurisdictions a surviving spouse or civil partner (not cohabitee) receives only a specified share of the estate if there are also children or grandchildren. 

For England and Wales, that surviving spouse or civil partner’s entitlement consists of personal possessions, assets up to a fixed cash value and half of any remaining estate. 


Disparity across jurisdictions

The legislation for England and Wales requires that fixed cash value to be updated once total inflation has exceeded 15% since the last update. No such indexation provision applies to the intestacy laws of Scotland and Northern Ireland. 

Unfortunately, although the 15% inflation threshold was triggered in November 2022, the Ministry of Justice did not act until 26 July 2023, by which time the Lord Chancellor’s legislated increase raised the cash sum by 19.3% to £322,000. 

Throughout the UK, intestacy law is not a subject at the forefront of legislators’ minds. But at a personal level, the defaults imposed by intestacy rules can have serious effects. The families of those who died intestate between November 2022 and July 2023 have potentially lost a substantial amount.

Research shows 50% of UK adults do not have a will. If you are among them or your will has not been reviewed for some years, the time to act is now. Procrastination, as the Ministry of Justice showed, can be costly.


Contact Us

To arrange an appointment to discuss how we can help you with your financial planning, or other related matters, you can contact us via your usual MHA adviser, or directly on 01604 621 421, or email the team on enquiries@mhacaves.co.uk


General risk warnings & other important information

This is a marketing communication, for general information only, and is not intended to be individual investment advice, a recommendation, tax, or legal advice. The views expressed in this article are those of MHA Caves Wealth or its staff and should not be considered as advice or a recommendation to buy, sell or hold a particular investment or product. In particular, the information provided will not address your personal circumstances, objectives, and attitude towards risk. Therefore, you are recommended to seek professional regulated advice before taking any action.

Key Risks: Capital at risk. Past performance is not a guide to future performance. The value of an investment and the income generated from it can go down as well as up, and is not guaranteed, therefore you may not get back the amount originally invested. Investment markets and conditions can change rapidly. Investments should always be considered long term.

This Information represents our understanding of current law and HM Revenue & Customs practice as at June 2023. Tax assumptions and reliefs depend upon an investor’s particular circumstances and may change if those circumstances or the law change.

Tax and Estate Planning Services (including Trusts) are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate tax advice. Tax treatment varies according to individual circumstances and is subject to change.

The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate will writing and some forms of estate planning.