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Inheritance law shake-up urged

Inheritance law shake-up urged

The bereaved, unmarried partner of someone who has not made a will should inherit their estate as long as they have cohabited for a minimum of five years, a report on inheritance law has urged.

The proposal comes from the Law Commission which added that the figure should be lowered to two years if there are children involved, and that a bereaved wife or husband should inherit all the estate if there is no will and no children.

It also wants the law simplified to help the bereaved deal with the property of a deceased family member and for adopted children who have lost a parent not to be at risk of losing an inheritance.

Under present law, spouses can have the first £250,000 and personal possessions. But they may have to share with children, siblings or parents when more is left.

The report's recommendations come after "extensive research and consultation on how the law of inheritance should operate in the 21st century", said the commissioner who led the project, Professor Elizabeth Cooke.

"It is important to have clear, modern and fair rules for dealing with the property of a person who has died," she added.

The report from the commission, which reviews and recommends law reform in England and Wales, said tens of thousands of people die annually without having made a will, with the laws on the subject dating back to 1925.

For advice on issues relating to wills, trusts, probate and tax and estate planning, contact our specialist wills solicitors, call us on 01494 790007 or email enquiries@ibblaw.co.uk.