“Better make a will”, says Justice Minister

Married couples and civil partners in the UK are to benefit from an increase in the statutory legacy. Ministry of Justice said that the Government has acted after concerns that the levels of the statutory legacy, currently set at £125,000 and £200,000, were too low. From the 1st February 2009 the new levels of the statutory legacy will increase to £250,000 and £450,000. The intestacy rules are a default regime and most people can opt out of them by making a will.

The statutory legacy is the amount payable to a surviving spouse or civil partner from the estate of his or her spouse or civil partner dying intestate, that is without leaving a valid will. Any person who dies without executing a valid last will is known as dying intestate and in that event the deceased’s estate is distributed according the law of Intestacy.

Justice Minister Bridget Prentice said: "This increase will give extra protection to married couples and civil partners whose spouse or civil partner dies without making a will. But it also highlights how important it is for both men and women to make arrangements for their loved ones in the event of their deaths.

"Married couples and civil partners should not assume that when their spouse or civil partner dies, they will automatically be entitled to everything. It is up to individuals to make sure that their wishes are respected by making a will.

"My message to people is, don’t leave it to chance. Make sure your loved ones are properly provided for by leaving a will", said Minister Prentice.