No will – what happens?

The rules of Intestacy explained

If someone dies without a Will, their estate will be distributed under the rules of “Intestacy”.

The problem is that the deceased then has no control over their estate and the people who they did want to inherit or should inherit, may be left out. In those circumstances there a is potential way to correct matters by making a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. 

Intestacy does not affect property owned as a joint tenant which passes to the survivor, nor insurance policies or pensions, where there are valid trust nominations in place.

It is possible to also to have a partially intestate estate where someone’s Will omits certain property.

Who misses out?
The Intestacy rules make no provision for cohabitees, step-children and relatives by marriage, so they will not inherit.

Newly married couples
Newly married couples sometimes don’t realise that any Wills that they had before the marriage will no longer be valid unless they were made in contemplation of marriage, which needs to be done correctly. If that effects you, our Wills and Probate team would be delighted to assist you in the preparation of new Wills

The Intestacy rules
If there is an intestate estate it will be distributed in the following order:

  • Surviving spouse or civil partner with no children
    The surviving spouse or civil partner inherits the entire estate.
  • Surviving spouse or civil partner with children
    The surviving spouse or civil partner inherits the deceased’s possessions (chattels), £250,000 and half of the remainder of the estate.
    The children inherit the other half of the remainder of the estate.
  • No surviving spouse or civil partner
    Children – the children inherit the estate in equal shares. If one of the children has died, their share goes to their children.
    No  children – the parents inherit.
    No parents – brothers and sisters inherit.
    In the event none of the above classes exist then the rules provide for more distant relatives and ultimately to the Crown.