The statutory legacy is the sum a spouse or civil partner is entitled to receive when a person dies without a will (intestate), and they leave behind a spouse/civil partner and children.
The Government has confirmed that the statutory legacy will increase from £270,000 to £322,000 for deaths occurring on and after 26 July 2023.
What is intestacy?
When a person dies without a valid will, they are said to have died intestate. It is also possible to be partially intestate. This happens when there is a valid will, but it does not clearly allocate and dispose of all of the deceased’s assets (for example, because some or all of the people allocated an asset (beneficiaries) named in the will died before the person that wrote the will).
The law sets out who is entitled to inherit on a full or partial intestacy. These rules can be complicated, with the division depending upon the deceased’s family circumstances at the time of death.
More information about the intestacy provisions can be seen in our intestacy rules flow chart.
What happens to spouses/civil partners and children in intestacy?
For deaths occurring on or after 26 July 2023, where the deceased left a spouse/civil partner and a child or children of their own, the net estate (i.e. the estate after payment of funeral and administration expenses, tax and other liabilities), will be divided as follows:
- The surviving spouse/civil partner will receive the deceased’s personal effects, known as their ‘personal chattels’.
- The statutory legacy of the first £322,000 (plus interest from the date of death) passes to the deceased’s surviving spouse / civil partner. If the net estate is less than £322,000 plus interest, it will pass entirely to the surviving spouse / civil partner.
- The remainder of the net estate (if any) will be divided:
- 50% to the surviving spouse/civil partner
- 50% will be divided equally among the deceased’s children (by blood or legal adoption). Step-children are not accounted for under the intestacy rules.
Where the deceased has no children, their surviving spouse/civil partner will inherit the entire net estate.
If the deceased has children but no spouse or civil partner, then those child(ren) will take the net estate equally.