Law change for Spouses and Civil Partners

Publish Date: 28/08/2008

Married couples and civil partners whose spouse or civil partner dies without leaving a will are to benefit from an increase in the statutory legacy under proposals published by the Government on 28th August.

The Government has acted after concerns that the levels of the statutory legacy, currently set at £125,000 (where the deceased leaves a surviving spouse or civil partner and children) and £200,000 (where the deceased leaves a surviving spouse or civil partner and parents or siblings, but no children), were too low.

Justice Minister Bridget Prentice said: "This increase will give extra protection to married couples and civil partners whose spouse or civil partner dies without making a will. But it also highlights how important it is for both men and women to make arrangements for their loved ones in the event of their deaths.

"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.

"My message to people is, don't leave it to chance. Make sure your loved ones are properly provided for by leaving a will."

From the 1 February 2009 the new levels of the statutory legacy will increase to £250,000 and £450,000.

The statutory legacy is the amount payable to a surviving spouse or civil partner from the estate of his or her spouse or civil partner dying intestate, that is without leaving a valid will.

The intestacy rules are a default regime and most people can opt out of them by making a will.

There is more information on what happens when someone dies without making a will on the DirectGov website