Q: My partner is giving me a hard time about making a Will. But if neither of us has any children to fight over it, and my half of the house we bought together is less than the Statutory Legacy amount that I believe has just increased to £270,000, why would I need to make a Will?
A: Statutory Legacy is the fixed sum to which a deceased person’s surviving spouse or civil partner is entitled from their estate, if they die intestate (without making a Will) and they have other close surviving family members.
You are quite right in saying the Statutory Legacy sum has recently increased. It increased on 6th February 2020, from £250,000 to £270,000. However, if you and your partner just live together and are not civil partners, the surviving partner will not be entitled to inherit under the terms of Statutory Legacy. So the only way to be sure of a surviving partner inheriting from their deceased partner is to make a Will.
Under current intestacy rules, if a deceased spouse or civil partner has no children their partner will inherit the entire estate, but if the deceased leaves children and close family the surviving spouse or civil partner will receive only the first £270,000 of their estate. After that the estate must be distributed in accordance with the rules, which specify a strict order of who can be a beneficiary. In the case of larger estates this is of particular concern as the intestacy rules do not offer the same inheritance tax planning advantages that can be achieved with a Will.
According to the intestacy rules the beneficiary hierarchy starts with a spouse or civil partner, followed by children and grandchildren, parents, siblings, grandparents and, finally, uncles and aunts. Although making a Will can seem daunting, it is vital for ensuring that your affairs are in order and that your wishes will be followed after your death.