Gary Rycroft column

Gary Rycroft.
Gary Rycroft.
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Significant changes in the law became effective this week.

Changes include the abolition of paper tax discs in cars and prospective fathers and a mother’s partner - it’s interesting the law recognises there may be a distinction - being entitled to take unpaid time off to attend up to two antenatal appointments.

However, for me the most interesting new law which came into force on October 1 is the Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act.

Under this new Act what happens to your estate (your house, savings and investments) if you die without a Will has been changed.

The situation has been “simplified” in terms of how assets are shared between surviving spouses and civil partners on the one hand and children on the other by way of surviving spouses and civil partners now being entitled to a greater share than they were before.

The same applies in a situation where there is a surviving spouse or civil partner and no children; before October 1 there was a carve up between the spouse or civil partner and other blood relatives.

Now the blood relatives are to get nothing.

As many people still do not make a Will this law reform will impact on a considerable number of families and whether that impact is considered to be good or bad will depend on which side of the fence you are on. Spouses and civil partners will be pleased - and children (especially those from an earlier marriage) may not be.

It has always been the case that when a marriage breaks down a new Will leaving out an estranged spouse is a good idea, but that is now even more important than ever.

The Government considered giving automatic rights of inheritance to unmarried partners in certain situations, but in the event decided not to implement this.

I must admit I could see difficulties with clearly defining when “cohabitation” should be recognised the kind giving entitlement to inherit.

All of this law reform gives even more credence to the best advice which remains “make a Will”.

Doing so is the only way to ensure your wishes will be carried out.