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HMRC internal manual

Inheritance Tax Manual

HM Revenue & Customs
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Succession: intestacy: distributions in Northern Ireland: other factors affecting surviving spouse or civil partner's entitlement

You will need to bear the following in mind when considering what a surviving spouse or civil partner (IHTM11032) (IHTM12121) is entitled to under intestacy.

  • The intestate’s spouse or civil partner has to survive the intestate to take any benefit from their estate. For deaths before 20 February 1997 it was immaterial that the spouse survived by only a very short period. For deaths on or after 20 February 1997 a surviving spouse or civil partner is only entitled on intestacy if they survive the deceased by at least 28 days. (Article 3 Succession (NI) Order 1996 and Sch 14 Part 2(9) Civil Partnership Act 2004)
  • Where a decree of judicial separation or order for separation of civil partners under S179 Civil Partnership Act 2004 has been made (not merely a separation agreement) then for the purpose of administering the estate the spouse or civil partner is treated as having predeceased the intestate.
  • Divorced spouses or former civil partners take no interest in the estate of their former spouses or civil partners.