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Volume 706: debated on Tuesday 16 December 2008


My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Bridget Prentice) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

On 28 August 2008, the Ministry of Justice published its response to its consultation paper Administration of Estates—Review of the Statutory Legacy (CP(R) 11/05) and announced that the levels of the statutory legacy would be increased from £125,000 to £250,000 where the deceased leaves a surviving spouse or civil partner and children and from £200,000 to £450,000 in other cases. The department also announced that the actuarial tables for converting a surviving spouse’s or civil partner’s life interest on intestacy into a capital sum were to be updated.

Subject to parliamentary approval, these changes will come into force on 1 February 2009. They will be effected by two statutory instruments. The first, the Family Provision (Intestate Succession) Order 2008, will increase the statutory legacy. It was laid in draft on Wednesday 12 November. The second, the Intestate Succession (Interest and Capitalisation) (Amendment) Order 2008, will update the actuarial tables. It was laid on 11 December 2008.

The statutory legacy is the fixed net sum payable to a surviving spouse or civil partner from the estate of a person dying intestate—that is, without leaving a valid will. If the estate is of sufficient value, the surviving spouse or civil partner is entitled to a life interest in one-half of the balance of the remainder once the statutory legacy has been settled. The surviving spouse or civil partner will receive any income generated from the life interest for the rest of his or her life or can choose to convert it into capital. The conversion is calculated by reference to the actuarial tables.