Wills2023 in Review

2023 has been a busy year in will writing and estate planning. A number of new changes have been introduced, along with various new reports and consultations relating to the industry. . Below we have highlighted the key changes that have happened this year.

Increase to Statutory Legacy

The statutory legacy for intestacy is a fixed sum that a surviving spouse/civil partner is entitled to under intestacy where the deceased is survived by both a spouse/civil partner and children or other descendants. In that event, the spouse/civil partner receives the statutory legacy, all personal chattels and half of the remainder.

From 26 July 2023, the statutory legacy increased from £270,000 to £322,000.

Law Commission’s Supplementary Consultation Paper on Wills

On 5 October 2023, the Law Commission launched their Making a Will: A Supplementary Consultation Paper. This is a follow up to their previous Consultation on Wills in 2017.  Unlike the previous consultation which was wide ranging, the Supplementary Paper focuses on two areas in which they believe views may have changed since the initial consultation. These are electronic wills and revocation of wills due to marriage and civil partnership.

Powers of Attorney Act 2023

The Powers of Attorney Act 2023 was passed on 18th September 2023. This followed a consultation by the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) and the Ministry of Justice in July 2021 on modernising Lasting Powers of Attorney and the Government’s response in May 2022.

The Act will allow for the OPG to introduce a new digital process and an improved paper application system. Requirements to verify the identity as part of the registration process will also be introduced along with amending how people can object to a registration.

It is still unknown the exact date when the Act will come into force as the OPG are still working on the digital system. Until then the current system will continue to apply.

Third Edition of the STEP Provisions Released

On 1st November 2023, the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) published the Third Edition of their Standard and Special Provisions. The Third Edition has kept close to the structure of the Second Edition, but has made several key changes, these include:

  • Removal of the old provision 5 Powers of Maintenance and Advancement, which was no longer required due to the changes made in the Inheritance and Trustee Powers Act 2014.
  • Combination of the old Provisions 6 and 18 on Minors and beneficiaries without capacity into a single standard provision at provision 5 of the Third Edition
  • The old provisions 10 and 11 on Trustee Remuneration and Trust Corporations have been amended to ensure professional trustees and trust corporations can charge and act as trustee in accordance with their standard terms and conditions from time to time
  • Removal of the old provision 22, Power to appropriate at the value at time of death. STEP now state that if this is required it would be better added as a bespoke power after an appropriate explanation is provided to the client

Inquiry into the Probate Service

Due to increased waiting times for probate, the government launched an inquiry into the probate service in November 2023. The inquiry will examine people’s experiences of applying for probate including how effectively beneficiaries, executors and the bereaved are supported through the process and protected from rogue traders.

OPG ends Death Certificate Requirement

In January 2023, the OPG removed their requirement to send in a death certificate following notification that an attorney or donor has died. A death can now be reported to the OPG by email, telephone or email, and the OPG will use the Life Event Verification (“LEV”) system to verify the death. LEV retrieves data directly from the General Registrar’s Office. Proof of death will now not be required unless requested by the OPG.

No Change to Inheritance Tax

Despite many rumours over the course of the year that inheritance tax changes could be coming, or that the government may abolish inheritance tax, the inheritance tax rules have remained untouched.



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Chris Rattigan-Smith