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Read more articles in: Blog, Private Client, Rachel Blackburn

The rise in statutory legacy sum and its impact on bereaved families amidst the cost-of-living crisis

There is never a positive circumstance when handling the death of a loved one. In some cases, these tragic moments in our life can take the people we love most away without any warning, to the point that no Will had been prepared by the deceased prior to their untimely passing.

A situation such as this is known as intestate and can leave grieving families with the extra stress and worry of no legal document to support them in recovering the estate.

However, legislation does support people who do suffer from this scenario, with something known as the statutory legacy sum.

The statutory legacy sum is the amount a surviving spouse or civil partner is entitled to if their deceased partner dies intestate.

Statutory legacy sum increase

The current statutory legacy sum stands at £270,000, but the Government has confirmed that this will be raised to £322,000 as of the 26th July 2023.

This change is not only significant for those drafting their Wills but also has broader implications amidst the ongoing cost-of-living crisis.

This increase is a result of amendments to the Administration of Estates Act 1925, which were implemented in 2014 following recommendations from a 2011 Law Commission report.

The aim of these changes was to modernise and simplify the law, creating a fairer and more logical set of rules. This, in turn, makes the process of administering an estate faster and easier for people during a difficult and emotional time.

The rise in the statutory legacy sum is particularly beneficial in the current economic climate. With the cost-of-living crisis and rising inflation, many are struggling financially.

The current statutory legacy sum would leave many individuals with the disheartening decision to sell their property if it was solely in the name of their deceased spouse, as the sum would not be enough to cover purchasing the price of the property.

The increase will lift many people above this financial barrier and enable more to not have to face the worry of selling their property.

Why is an increase being implemented?

The statutory legacy sum is reviewed every five years, or when the inflation rate increases by 15 per cent or more from the base rate applicable when the statutory legacy was previously set.

This trigger point was reached in December 2022, prompting the Government to review the sum. The decision to raise the sum to £322,000 was made in accordance with the change in the Consumer Price Index (CPI).

Considering life after a loved one has passed, is not a conversation many will want to have, especially if their age and health show no signs of any immediate threat to their lives.

However, life, unfortunately, has a habit of taking a turn for the worst when we least expect it, so it is important to consider preparing a Will to avoid any problems from any intestate deaths.

While the increase in the statutory legacy sum will benefit tens of thousands of people in the UK, intestate deaths can provide additional stress and trauma for those in mourning.

If a Will is in place, loved ones will at least have the assurance that the estate will be handled efficiently and give those grieving some rest bite.

Are you considering drafting a Will? Our expert Wills and Probate team are here to help, please contact us today.

Rachel Blackburn

Head of Wills, Probate and Older Client Services

I joined Mander Hadley’s Wills, Probate and Older Client Services Team in 2018.I specialise in the preparation of Wills, Probate and estate administration, trusts and trust administration and Lasting Powers of Attorney. I also have experience of care fee planning and appeals of Continuing Health Care decisions.