Changes to rules setting out what happens to a person’s estate if they die without a Will have been cautiously welcomed by a leading Midland law firm.
Legal specialist Will Jones says the new rules that take effect from 1 October are a step in the right direction, but still far from the safety net that a formal Will offers.
The new Inheritance and Trustees Powers Act 2014 has updated the framework for who will benefit from a person’s estate if they die without a Will. This framework is known as the ‘intestacy rules’.
But Mr Jones is urging people across the Midlands not to be lulled into a false sense of security and to make sure they still have a Will to ensure their loved ones are provided for.
Mr Jones, assistant solicitor at mfg Solicitors which has main offices in Telford and Ludlow, said: “The intestacy rules have been in place for many years and an update and clarification has been a long time coming. We welcome it but it’s still a very general set of rules that don’t work for everyone.
“If someone dies without a Will then, under the new rules, their estate passes to the closest family members where things are set out in an order of priority, defining which family members should inherit before others. If there is no family member entitled under the intestacy rules, then the deceased person’s estate will automatically pass to the government.
“In many cases this does not achieve what people want and underlines the importance of a Will, especially if people own property, a business, wish to leave something to friends or charities or have relatives whom they would not wish to benefit.
“Despite the update to the rules, they remain generalised and if they do not reflect what a family expects to happen, it can result in unbearable distress and financial burden from trying to challenge the outcome through the courts.
“Wills set out exactly what you want to happen to your estate and your possessions. It’s much more personal and reassuring than the broad brush approach of the intestacy rules.”
For details on making a Will readers can call Mr Jones on 0845 55 55 321.