Intestacy Rules

Guidance on Intestacy and dying without a will
Intestacy occurs when a person ends up dying without a Will. When this happens, there are certain rules governing distribution of the deceased’s assets.

The following scenarios give a basic overview of what happens when a person dies intestate. Please note this is a simple guide and you should always consider consulting a solicitor for professional advice on intestacy.

Scenario 1: Spouse or civil partnership (married person) with issue (children*)

  • Spouse inherits assets to the value of £250,000 and all of the deceased’s personal possessions.
  • The remaining value of the assets is split in half:
    1. 50% to the children (upon reaching 18 or earlier if they are married);
    2. 50% is held on trust for the children during the spouse’s lifetime. The spouse can access income from the estate and on their death that asset passes to the children.
  • If a child predeceases their parent, but has their own children, these grandchildren shall take their parent’s share between them (again on reaching the age of 18 or on an earlier marriage).

*Note; adopted children have rights to inherit under intestacy rules.

Scenario 2: Spouse or civil partnership (married person) with no issue (children)

  • Spouse inherits assets to the value of £450,000 together with all personal possessions.
  • The remaining amount is split in half:
    1. 50% to the spouse; and
    2. 50% to the deceased’s parents. If both parents have died then any brothers or sisters of blood relation (or their children) will then inherit.

Scenario 3: Spouse or civil partnership (married person) with no issue (children) parents, brothers

or sisters of blood relation, nephew or nieces

  • Spouse inherits all of the deceased’s assets.

Scenario 4: Unmarried person with issue (children)

  • The children inherit everything (upon attaining the age of 18 or earlier if they are married).
  • If a child predeceases their parent, but has their own children, these grandchildren shall take their parent’s share between them (once again upon attaining the age of 18 or earlier if married).

Scenario 5: Unmarried person with no issue (children)
The estate will be distributed in the following order:

  • Parents of the deceased
  • If none… then brothers or sisters of blood relation (or their children);
  • If none… then half brothers or sisters (or their children);
  • If none… then to grandparents;
  • If none… then to uncles and aunts of blood relation (or their children);
  • If none… then to half uncles and aunts (or their children);
  • If there are none of the above, the estate is ‘bona vacantia’ which means it will revert to the Crown.

(All figures shown apply for deaths on or after 1st February 2009)

Intestacy rules or dying without a will query? Contact us today
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