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Inheritance & Welfare Specialist Ciara Hannawin answers an Inheritance Law question

Q. My Dad died this year.  He made a Will in 2006 leaving me everything but then he married again in 2008.  I am his only child. What happens to his estate?

A. The Will that your Dad made in 2006 was automatically cancelled by his marriage in 2008.  If he has not drafted another Will since his marriage, then he has died Intestate and the Intestacy Rules will determine, amongst other things, two important matters:

1.    Who has the right to administer your Dad’s estate; and
2.    Who will benefit from your Dad’s estate

To begin with, your Dad’s wife is first in line to take control of administering his estate.  The value of his estate will also determine whether someone else needs to be appointed alongside her.

The value of your Dad’s estate (and how he owns the assets) will also determine who inherits.  The Intestacy Rules contain a strict division of assets as follows:

Your Dad’s wife will inherit:
a.    Your Dad’s household goods and personal effects;
b.    Any assets that he owned jointly with her (unless held as a tenant in common); and
c.    A cash legacy of £250,000

Everything else is then split into two equal shares.  The first share is held on trust for the benefit of your Dad’s wife for her lifetime; the second share passes to you.  When your Dad’s wife dies, if there is anything left in the trust that was created for her lifetime, you will then inherit this at that time.

The Intestacy Rules create inappropriate outcomes in many cases as they are unsuited to a high proportion of modern family arrangements.  It is important to note, however, that the Intestacy Rules can be changed completely with the consent of all concerned.

This is a complicated area and one that requires careful consideration.  In order to avoid potential disputes and family arguments, we strongly recommend that you seek specialist advice as soon as possible to make sure that everyone concerned understands their position and entitlements.

Contact us about our Inheritance & Welfare Team who can advise you today.

Please call 0800 916 9055, or email Our Wills and Probate Specialists operate across the country and can offer immediate and accessible representation anywhere in the UK. By Ciara Hannawin, Inheritance & Welfare Expert.