Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014

The Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014 received the Royal Assent on the 14th May 2014 and should become law on the 1st October 2014 after a project undertaken by the Law Commission revealed that more than 60% of the adult population had not made a Will with many people dying intestate every year and a large proportion of those people being in the category of those who should make a Will to properly dispose of their assets.

The project undertaken by the Law Commission gave consideration to two areas of the law of inheritance and elements of a trustee’s powers.

When a person dies intestate they have not made a Will and therefore they have not given any written direction as to how they wish to dispose of their property/ money/assets, referred to as “the deceased’s estate”, amongst members of their family which distribution of “the deceased estate” falls within the intestacy Rules.

Under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (“the 1975 Act”) some members of the family and any dependants can make a claim to the Courts for family provision to be made from the deceased’s estate.

The Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014 will make reforms to existing legislature in this regard as follows:

  • Where there are not any children and the couple are married or in a civil partnership, any assets of the deceased person will pass under the intestacy to the other.
  • The distribution of assets will be made much simpler in circumstances where the deceased has a surviving spouse, children or other descendants.
  • Children will be safeguarded, where one of their parents has died, against losing their inheritance from the deceased parent should they be adopted anytime thereafter.
  • Amending the rules which at present weigh against unmarried fathers when a child dies intestate.
  • Giving unfettered access to dependants of the deceased in order for them to make a claim for family provision or for anyone else to make a claim for family provision who the deceased treated as his child but who was not within a marriage or civil partnership.
  • Allow a family provision claim in circumstances where the deceased person lived elsewhere out of the jurisdiction of England and Wales but had left family members/dependants/property within England and Wales.
  • To overhaul the statutory powers of the trustees of the deceased estate in respect of their management of the capital and income produced from the estate which is to be utilised for the benefit of the trust beneficiaries.

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