When your spouse dies, regardless of whether he/she has left you anything in their will, you may be entitled to a portion of their assets, or in legal terms, inheritance from their estate.
This area of law is referred to as the “legal right share” and it sets out the inheritance rights of a spouse. A spouse is entitled to one half of the assets where there are no children. If there are children, the spouse is entitled to one third. This legal right share will operate upon the death of a spouse even where the deceased wanted his/her assets to go to somebody else.
If you have been given a gift in your spouse’s will but it is smaller than one third/one half of their assets (whichever is the case as above), then you have the right to choose to take your legal right share instead. If you have been given nothing in the will then you will be automatically entitled to your legal right share from the deceased’s estate.
Now, Civil Partners have similar rights to husbands and wives in this area too.
If you want to choose to take your legal right share instead of what you have been left by your spouse there are certain time limits for this and you should speak to your solicitor.
There are some instances where you may not be entitled to a legal right share – for example where you are separated. You should make sure with your solicitor that this area of law applies to you.