19. Prior rights
A widow, widower or surviving civil partner has prior rights in his or her late spouse or civil partner's estate. In this section we call someone with prior rights "the survivor". The executor must deal with prior rights before legal rights.
If the person who died owned a house, and the survivor lived there, he or she is entitled to the house and the furnishings and furniture of that house, subject to certain limits.
The survivor can claim:
- the house, as long as its value is less than £473,000
- the furnishings and furniture up to the value of £29,000.
If the house is worth more than £473,000 the survivor's entitlement is to £473,000 in money. If the house forms part of another property - for instance, if it is part of a farm or a shop - the entitlement could, in certain cases, be to money and not to the house. If that happens, the £473,000 limit will apply.
The survivor is also entitled to money from the estate. The amount depends on whether the person who died left children or "descendants" of children such as grandchildren or great-grandchildren.
If the person who died left children or descendants, the survivor is entitled to the first £50,000 out of the estate. If the person left no children or descendants, the survivor is entitled to the first £89,000.