Intestacy rules

The Ministry of Justice has announced an increase in the amount of the statutory legacy on intestacy. The statutory legacy is the amount which an individual is entitled to receive from the estate of their husband, wife or civil partner where the individual has not made a Will.

From 1 February 2009 the statutory legacy will increase to:

  • £250,000 (from £125,000) where there is a surviving spouse or civil partner and children
  • £450,000 (from £200,000) where there is a surviving spouse or civil partner and parents or siblings, but no children.

The statutory limits only apply in certain circumstances.

The statutory limits were last increased in 1993 and the government has acted because of concerns that the current levels are too low.

It should be noted that civil partnerships are same sex marriages and not couples just cohabiting, for which there are no statutory legacies.

Please do get in touch if you have any queries on inheritance tax or the intestacy rules or if you think your Will needs reviewing.

Internet links: Press Release and Directgov website

Changes to rights during maternity leave

Following changes made to the Sex Discrimination Act and to the Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations, the law on contractual terms of employment during Additional Maternity Leave (AML) changed in respect of women whose babies were due on or after 5 October 2008. The date the baby is due, as shown on the MATB1 certificate (provided by the midwife or doctor at around 20 weeks into the pregnancy) is the relevant date and not the date the baby is actually born.

The main effect of the change is that broadly all non-pay contractual terms and conditions of employment to which a woman is entitled during Ordinary Maternity Leave (being the first 26 weeks leave) continue throughout her AML, including accrual of contractual annual leave. These rights could also include such things as the use of a company car or availability of private medical cover.

These rights and entitlements will therefore now apply to the full 52 weeks maternity leave entitlement as opposed to the first 26 weeks as previously.

Internet links: HMRC guidance and Government Equalities Office

Bank of England Reduces Bank Rate by 0.5%

The Bank of England reduced the bank rate by 0.5% to 4.5% with effect from 8 October 2008.

John Cridland, CBI Deputy Director-General, said:

“This was an essential and timely rate cut which the CBI had called for to help restore business and consumer confidence.

We have now seen major steps by both the Government and the Bank of England to support the economy and the financial system. These will be welcomed by business, and will help the economy at a critical time.

We also applaud the coordinated interest rate cuts by key central banks, which will benefit the global economy and stabilise financial markets.”

Please do contact us if you have concerns.

Internet links: Bank of England news release and CBI news release

Gift aid form amended

HMRC have updated their model Gift Aid declaration form for charities and community amateur sports clubs to reflect the reduction in the basic rate of tax from 22% to 20% from the beginning of this tax year.

Any charity organisers who have not already updated their own Gift Aid form may wish to download the updated form.

Internet link: Charity forms

Corporation Tax Changes

December 2008

The main rate of corporation tax which applies to companies with profits of more than £1.5 million fell to 28% from 30% from 1 April 2008.

The small companies corporation tax rate which applies to companies with up to £300,000 of profits increased from 20% to 21% from 1 April 2008. The intention was to increase this rate to 22% in 2009 but this has been deferred until 1 April 2010.

Internet link: HMRC corporation tax changes