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Downton Abbey No More? Or Why Younger Couples Should Make Wills


An interesting and important subject; we are lucky to have a guest blog from Helen Gott of Blacks Solicitors to guide us through some pretty important changes.

At long last there are some changes in the area of law relating to Wills.

From the 1 October 2014 the definition of personal belongings or personal chattels last laid down in 1925 has been altered. No more will it mean stable furniture, horses, plate, linen, glass, liquors and consumable stores.

The new definition of personal chattels will generally mean anything other than property which consists of securities for money or was used at the death solely or mainly for business purposes or held solely as an investment. Talk of motor cars, domestic animals, carriages and stables furniture seems far more refined.

One of the main changes coming in on the 1 October is a change to the intestacy rules. If you die without a Will the law says who inherits. Under the old rules if you died leaving a husband or wife or civil partner and no children but you left parents or brothers or sisters then your spouse or civil partner had to share your estate with the parents or siblings. Everything will now just pass to your spouse or civil partner if you have no children.

If a person dies without leaving a Will and has spouse or civil partner and children then the spouse or civil partner may still have to share the estate with the children.

So under the old rules and under the new rules it ‘doesn`t still all go to the wife’. It is vitally important that you make a Will. It is even more important that young couples with children make Wills.

Under the old rules where the spouse or civil partner was entitled to income from part of the deceased`s estate they could choose to capitalise this right to income. The younger you were, generally speaking the greater amount of the capital you inherited. This election is to be abolished and apart from a first lump sum a surviving spouse or civil partner will share equally with the children in an estate. Young spouses or partners could therefore lose out.

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