Increase to the Statutory Legacy for Spouses and Civil Partners

On 6th February 2020, the amount a surviving spouse or civil partner will receive from their late spouse’s or civil partner’s estate if they die without leaving a will and leaving children increased to £270,000 from £250,000. This sum is called the “Statutory Legacy”.

The Intestacy Rules

The Intestacy Rules are a set of rules drawn up by the government that provide where a deceased person’s estate will pass if they die without making a valid will (i.e. if they die “intestate”). The Rules take into account the deceased’s surviving family members, for example, their surviving spouse or civil partner and children. If neither of these apply then the Rules take into account other relatives of the deceased (e.g. parents, siblings, nieces and nephews, grandparents etc.) in a priority order.

Where a person dies intestate leaving a surviving spouse or civil partner, the Rules now provide that the estate shall be divided as follows:-

  1. 1. If the deceased leaves no children then the Rules provide that the surviving spouse or civil partner shall inherit all of the estate.
  2. 2. If the deceased leaves children but their estate is worth £270,000 or less, then the surviving spouse or surviving civil partner shall still inherit all of the estate.
  3. 3. However, if the deceased leaves children and their estate is worth more than £270,000, the Rules provide that the surviving spouse or civil partner shall keep all of the assets up to £270,000 (the Statutory Legacy) and all personal possessions belonging to the deceased, whatever their value. The remainder of the estate will be shared as follows:-
  • the surviving spouse or civil partner will receive half of the remainder; and
  • the other half of the remainder will be divided equally between the surviving children. However, the Rules provides that children will only receive their inheritance when they either reach the age of 18 or if they marry or form a civil partnership before they become 18. Until then, the trustees of the estate will manage their inheritance on their behalf. If a son or daughter has already died, their children will inherit in their place.

Although the increase to the Statutory Legacy has been welcomed, it is still highly advisable to draw up a will to avoid having to rely upon the Intestacy Rules, which do not provide for unmarried partners, cohabitees, step-children or friends.

Simon Davis, president of the Law Society, emphasised that ‘Writing a legally valid will with the help of an expert solicitor ensures people’s estate is inherited exactly as they would choose and can prevent a whole raft of problems landing on loved ones when they are grieving.’

If you require advice on the Rules of Intestacy, administering an Estate or about drawing up a will, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Tolhurst Fisher’s specialist Wills, Trust and Probate team on 01702 352511 or

Author: Laura Hotten