Practice Note (6) September 2014
The Inheritance & Trustees Powers Act 2014
The above Act implements the recommendations of the Law Commission in Parts 2 to 7 of its report on Intestacy and Family Provision Claims on Death (2011) Law Commission No. 331, making amendments in particular to provisions governing the intestacy rules and provision for family and dependants of a deceased person and so far as not already in force, comes into force on 1st October 2014.
The Act contains a number of notable features that affect Non-Contentious Probate Practice.
Section 1 removes the fixed net sum for spouses or civil partners where the deceased left no issue. For deaths occurring on or after the 1st October 2014 where a person with issue dies intestate, or where their estate passing under a will is being disposed of under the rules of intestacy, the surviving spouse or civil partner remains entitled to the first £250,000 (as a fixed net sum) plus chattels but will now enjoy an absolute interest in half of the remainder of the estate with the other half passing to the issue absolutely. However, where the deceased dies on or after the 1st October 2014 without issue the surviving spouse or civil partner will now inherit the whole estate. Parents, siblings or their issue will no longer benefit.
Section 2 defines the rate of interest payable on the statutory legacy of a spouse or civil partner where the deceased died on or after the 1st October 2014. From this date the rate will be fixed at the Bank rate set by the Bank of England and in force at the end of the day on which the deceased died.
Section 3 re-defines chattels for intestacy purposes where the death is on or after the 1st October 2014 and for Wills made on or after the 1st October 2014. For Wills made before the coming into force of the Act where the deceased died after the coming into force the Act says:
“If a will or codicil containing a reference to personal chattels defined (in
whatever form of words) by reference to section 55(1)(x) of the Administration
of Estates Act 1925 was executed before the coming into force of subsection (1),then unless the contrary intention appears, subsection (1) is to be disregarded in interpreting the reference to personal chattels. ”
Section 4 addresses a major problem where a minor entitled to an interest in his deceased parent’s estate, contingent upon coming of age, loses that interest by the act of adoption and becoming the child of its new parents. Where the adoption takes place on or after the 1st October 2014 the adopted minor will retain his interest in his previous deceased parent’s estate. The change will apply where the deceased dies testate or intestate.
Section 5 modifies an aspect of determining presumption of death where unmarried parents and a child are involved. Previously section 18(2) of The Family Law Reform Act 1987 said “For the purposes of section 1 above and that part of that Act, a person whose father and mother were not married to each other at the time of his birth shall be presumed not to have been survived by his father, or by any person related to him only through his father, unless the contrary is shown.
Section 5 of the new Act says:
“In section 18 of the Family Law Reform Act 1987 (succession on intestacy), after
subsection (2) insert—
“(2ZA) Subsection (2) does not apply if a person is recorded as the intestate’s
father, or as a parent (other than the mother) of the intestate—
(a) in a register of births kept (or having effect as if kept) under the
Births and Deaths Registration Act 1953, or
(b) in a record of a birth included in an index kept under section
30(1) of that Act (indexes relating to certain other registers etc).”
The above represents my interpretation of the new Act as it affects Non Contentious Probate and by no means is to be taken as legal advice. Legal advice can only be given by a qualified source.
The new Act and the commencement order with explanatory note may be viewed and downloaded at www.legislation.gov.uk