Why writing a Will is important if you live in the historic Duchy of Cornwall
Posted on 15th June 2022
During this month’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations Prince Charles has had a high profile.
Amongst his possessions as the Queen’s oldest son is the Duchy of Cornwall, which he inherited when he became Duke of Cornwall in 1962 and which he runs as a private estate.
The Prince can review proposed legislation that could affect the revenues, assets or interests of the Duchy before it is passed to Parliament.
It has been reported that three draft bills that have been reviewed by Prince Charles ultimately included exemptions that prevent Duchy residents from buying their homes. Some have claimed their homes have diminished in value and they cannot borrow against them to help pay for things like social care.
Prince Charles benefits from some ancient provisions concerning the Duchy such as the right to anything salvaged from Cornish shipwrecks. These rules also mean that he retains the rights to the property of Duchy residents who die without a Will or heirs. This rule also applies to remaining assets when a company is dissolved.
Known as ‘bona vacantia’, this money goes to the Duke of Cornwall’s Benevolent Fund, which he established in 1975. It benefits local communities in the South West of England and has received over £850,000 in this way over the last seven years.
Dying without a Will or heirs
If you die before you have made a valid Will the rules of intestacy will apply. Your spouse or civil partner can inherit under these rules and you should be aware that this is still the case if you are separated but you aren’t divorced or if your partnership has not yet been legally ended.
If you have children, grandchildren or great grandchildren your surviving spouse or partner will receive:
all your personal property and belongings
the first £270,000 of the estate
half of the remaining estate.
There are also rules that depend on how you own your property.
If you don’t have a surviving partner but you do have children they will inherit your estate. Parents, brothers, sisters, nephews or nieces, grandparents, aunts and uncles might be able to inherit form your estate. The rules are more complicated for grandchildren and great grandchildren.
If none of these relatives are surviving when you die then your estate will go to the Crown and a Treasury solicitor will deal with your estate. They can make grants from your estate but they don’t have to agree to applications.
The way property is shared after your death can be changed provided this is done within two years. This is called making a deed of family arrangement or variation and all the people who would inherit under the rules of intestacy must agree.
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