It is estimated that 70% of Britons do not have a will.

New Intestacy Rules that come into effect on February 1st will help some of those without a will, but also highlight the severe consequences of dying ‘intEstate’ (without a will).

Married partners of people who die without a will stand to be better off under major changes to inheritance rules announced by the Ministry of Justice.

If a person dies without making a will and leaves children behind, their partner will receive the first £250,000 of the Estate, instead of the current position where they will receive just £125,000.

If the person dies without making a will without children, but has a close relative - a parent, sibling, niece or nephew - their partner will receive the first £450,000, instead of the current £200,000.

Sean Barrow, a solicitor with 30 years experience in Wills and Probate said “It will certainly give extra protection to married couple and civil partners whose Spouse or civil partner dies without a will.

At the same time, married couples and civil partners should not assume that when their Spouse or civil partner dies, they will automatically be entitled to everything. It is up to individuals to make sure that their wishes are respected by making a will.”

The more severe consequences of dying intEstate fall to couples living together, but who are not married. Under the eyes of the law there is no such thing as a common-law wife or husband. If you are cohabiting, you have no automatic right to inherit anything at all from your partner.

Sean said “This again highlights that cultural and social changes are not always adopted by the law. Although awareness of this issue is increasing, there are many who believe the fallacy that if one partner dies, the other will automatically inherit everything.

Lastly, dying without a will effectively rules out making a gift to causes and charities you may wish to support. It rules out making gifts to friends, and does not deal with more complex family arrangements many of us have such as stepchildren. As the old saying goes, it’s better to be safe than sorry.”

Jackson Barrett & Gass are committed to offering a tailored service to all clients. We offer a distance will service via post and email, as well as face to face meetings and free home visits to elderly or infirm clients. Jackson Barrett & Gass have provided Wills to the people of Cheshire since 1930.

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This article appeared in Wilmslow Express 05/03/09