Trusts & Wills

What Happens If I Die Without A Will?

Despite the old saying, the only sure things in life are death and taxes; over half the UK population have failed to draft a will. Most people are unaware of how dire the consequences of dying without a will, (or dying intestate as it is legally known) can be.  For example, if you are separated from your spouse but not yet divorced, if you die without a will, they will be entitled to make a claim on your estate. So what happens if your die intestate?  Continue reading to find out.

What are the ‘Rules of Intestacy?’

The ‘rules of intestacy’ (the Rules) govern how a person’s estate will be divided.  The only people who can inherit under the rules of intestacy are married or civil partners and some close relatives.

Who cannot inherit under the Rules?

The following people cannot inherit under the Rules:

  • unmarried partners
  • lesbian or gay partners not in a civil partnership
  • relations by marriage
  • close friends
  • carers

How do the Rules apply?

If there are surviving children, grandchildren or great grandchildren of the person who died and the estate is valued at more than £250,000, the spouse will inherit:

  • all the personal property and belongings of the person who has died, and
  • the first £250,000 of the estate
  • half of the remaining estate

If there are no surviving children then the partner will receive everything.

If there is a surviving spouse then children will only inherit if the estate is worth over £250,000.  If there is no surviving partner then the children will receive the entire estate.

If there are two or more children and a surviving spouse, the children will inherit in equal shares one half of the value of the estate above £250,000.

Parents, brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews of the intestate person may inherit under the rules of intestacy if there is no surviving spouse or children.

What if there are no surviving relatives?

If a person dies and there are no surviving relatives then his or her estate passes to the Crown. 

Dying without a will can lead to certain people such as long-term cohabitating partners being barred from inheriting anything from a deceased’s estate.  The best way to ensure your estate and affairs are dealt fairly and in a manner that you would wish is to have a will drafted by a professional Solicitor.

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