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Lords to debate reform of laws on inheritance

The Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Bill was introduced into the House of Lords on July 30 by Liberal Democrat peer Lord McNally, and is designed to make further provision on the estates of the deceased and to amend the law relating to the powers of trustees.

The 20-page Bill includes reforms which assets pass on intestacy to the surviving spouse in cases where there are no children or other descendants.

Other reforms include simplifying the sharing of assets on intestacy where the deceased was survived by a spouse and children or other descendants, and the permitting of claims for family provision where the person died while domiciled outside of England and Wales, but left property and family members or dependents here.

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The statutory powers of trustees are also reformed in the Bill, allowing them to use income and capital for the benefit of trust beneficiaries.

Ahead of the Bill’s reading, The Law Society has urged the public take heed of hit TV show Downton Abbey’s message on the importance of writing a will.

Law Society president Nicholas Fluck said protagonist Matthew Crawley’s decision to set out his wishes in a will “reinforced the fact that writing a will was a crucial task for all adults”.

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David Penny, managing director of Somerset-based Invest Southwest, said: “This Bill is an improvement on the current situation, but people should write wills. There are so many aspects that can go wrong with an estate if someone dies intestate.”