Wills and intestacy

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The page will automatically redirect to Wills and Intestacy Research Briefings produced by the Commons Library, Lords Library and POST

Content published before December 2016

This page highlights some of the current parliamentary material available on wills and intestacy. This includes select committee reports, briefing papers on current legislation and other subjects produced by the parliamentary research services, and the latest Early Day Motions put down by MPs.

Commons Briefing Papers

DateDescription
30.06.2016Obtaining a copy of a will
This Commons Library briefing paper provides information about obtaining a copy of a will. In general, a will is a private document unless and until a grant of probate is issued. Once a grant of probate has been issued, a will becomes a public document and anyone can apply to have a copy.
23.03.2016Regulation of will writers
The Commons Library has published a briefing paper which considers arguments for and against statutory regulation of will writing. In May 2013, the then Government decided not extend regulation to this area.
20.03.2014Inheritance and Trustees' Powers Bill [HL]: Committee Stage Report
This is a report on the House of Commons Committee Stage of the Inheritance and Trustees' Powers Bill [HL] (the Bill). It complements Research Paper 14/11 prepared for the Commons Second Reading.
26.02.2014Inheritance and Trustees' Powers Bill [HL]
The Inheritance and Trustees' Powers Bill [HL] is based substantially on a draft bill prepared by the Law Commission. It is following the special procedure which applies to Law Commission bills. The Bill is a technical Bill which would amend aspects of the law of intestacy and family provision claims; and the statutory powers of trustees in all trusts.
02.04.2013Draft Inheritence and Trustees' Powers Bill
In October 2008, the Law Commission began work on a project dealing with intestacy and family provision claims on death. In December 2011, the Law Commission published a final report and two draft bills. The Law Commission found 'many instances where the current law is outdated, confusing or places unnecessary obstacles in the way of those with a valid claim to share in a deceased person's assets'. It recommended a package of reforms 'that would modify the current legal rules to reflect modern social expectations and to remove arbitrary or unduly technical aspects, while leaving intact the fundamental structure of the English law of 'succession' to property on death'.
02.03.2011Estates of Deceased Persons (Forfeiture Rule and Law of Succession) Bill : Committee Stage Report
This is a report on the House of Commons Committee Stage of the Estates of Deceased Persons (Forfeiture Rule and Law of Succession) Bill (the Bill). It complements Research Paper 11/07 prepared for the Commons Second Reading. The Bill is a Private Member's Bill. It was presented to Parliament by Greg Knight, through the ballot procedure, on 30 June 2010 as Bill 8 of 2010-11 and had its second reading on 21 January 2011. The Bill had a single sitting in a Public Bill Committee on 16 February 2011. No amendments had been tabled and there was no disagreement to any of the clauses. The Bill was reported without amendment. The Bill would, in certain circumstances, protect the inheritance rights of the descendants of people who have forfeited their inheritance by killing the deceased; or who have decided not to accept their own inheritance. Broadly, it would implement, with modifications, a number of the recommendations of the Law Commission in its 2005 report, The Forfeiture Rule and the Law of Succession. The Bill would extend to England and Wales.
18.01.2011Estates of Deceased Persons (Forfeiture Rule and Law of Succession) Bill
The Estates of Deceased Persons (Forfeiture Rule and Law of Succession) Bill is a Private Member's Bill introduced by Greg Knight under the ballot procedure. The Ministry of Justice has indicated to Greg Knight that it will support the Bill and has assisted with drafting the Bill and the Explanatory Notes. The Bill would protect the inheritance rights of the descendants of people who have: forfeited their inheritance by killing the deceased; or decided not to accept their own inheritance. It would give general effect to the recommendations of the Law Commission in its 2005 report, The Forfeiture Rule and the Law of Succession, which were accepted by the Labour Government in 2006. Similar provisions to those contained in the Bill were included in the Draft Civil Law Reform Bill which the Labour Government published in December 2009. The Coalition Government is not proceeding with that draft Bill.
24.05.2010Inheritance tax and probate
In 2003 the Government introduced a new Direct Payment scheme, to deal with a problem created by the interaction between the conditions placed on an estate before a grant of probate is issued, and the requirements to pay inheritance tax on that estate. This note describes the introduction of the new scheme.
28.10.2009Perpetuities and Accumulations Bill [HL]: Committee stage report
Report on the House of Commons second reading and Bill committee stages of the Perpetuities and Accumulations Bill (HL) 2008-09. It complements Research Paper 09/78 prepared for Commons second reading. The Bill received cross-party support in Second Reading Committee and there was no debate in Public Bill Committee.
14.09.2009Perpetuities and Accumulations Bill [HL]. Bill 145 2008-09.
The Bill is the first to be considered under a new House of Lords procedure for Law Commission bills and would implement, with minor modifications, the recommendations of a 1998 Law Commission report on the rule against perpetuities and the rule against excessive accumulations. The rule against perpetuities sets a time limit, known as the perpetuity period, within which dealings with property which are to take effect in the future (such as a gift to a child who is not yet born) must occur. The Law Commission report considered that the application of the rule is now too wide: it applies, for example, to many commercial dealings which have nothing to do with the family settlements that the rule was designed to control. Moreover, it found that the existence of multiple methods for calculating the perpetuity period is complex and confusing. The Bill defines the circumstances in which the rule would apply. In general terms, it would only apply to rights under trusts. Other property rights would no longer be subject to the rule. Where the rule does apply, the perpetuity period would be 125 years. This period would generally apply prospectively only. The rule against excessive accumulations applies where a disposition carries a duty or a power to accumulate income. The rule places restrictions on the period of time during which income may be accumulated. The Law Commission found that there was no longer a sound policy basis for restricting settlors' ability to direct or allow for the accumulation of income, except in the case of charitable trusts. The Bill would therefore abolish the current rule for all non-charitable trusts. Charitable trusts would, however, be subject to a limit of either a 21 year period or the life of the settlor.

Select Committee Reports

DateDescription
09.03.2010The EU's Regulation on Succession.
European Union Select Committee (HL) report [Lords]

Glossary

  • Commons Briefing Papers (CBP) Papers providing in-depth and impartial analysis on every major piece of primary legislation and on other topics of public and parliamentary concern. Regular statistics papers are also published.
  • Early Day Motions (EDMs) - formal motions submitted by MPs in the House of Commons
  • POSTnotes (POST PN) - proactive four-page policy briefings from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology based on reviews of the research literature, interviews with stakeholders and peer review, commissioned by the POST Board
  • Lords Library Notes (LLN) - authored publications by the research section of the House of Lords Library that provide analysis of Bills, subjects for debate in the House and other issues of interest to Members.
  • Select Committee Reports - papers produced by all select committees of both Houses