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Prior to October 2014
Surviving spouses or civil partner without children would inherit the first £450,000 of the estate plus half of the remainder. The other half would be split with surviving blood relatives, such as their parents or brothers and sisters.
Previously, rules stated that the spouse or civil partner obtain the first £250,000 plus an entitlement. This meant the spouse/civil partner could take 50% of the residue of the estate, but not the capital. This enables the surviving spouse /civil partner to receive one half of the residue in full. This is potentially important in a scenario where one spouse in a couple with children dies, leaving the surviving spouse to remarry. If the second spouse then dies without providing for the children in their Will the estate could pass to the children’s step-parent and potentially fall outside of the family.
There remain no specific provisions for cohabiters (a couple who live together but are not married and have not entered into a civil partnership), even those without children. It is therefore of vital importance that cohabiters make a will if they want to provide for their partner. Put simply, cohabiters simply do not have the same rights and protection as married couples or civil partners. Whilst some of the new intestacy rules made improvements they are still no replacement for making a Will and ensuring that your assets are divided amongst your beneficiaries.
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