Dying without a will – the rules of intestacy

If you do not make a will (or it is invalid) then the law sets out who inherits your property (your “estate”) and how much they get (called the intestacy rules). The division of the estate depends on which relatives survived the deceased. For example if the deceased left a spouse without children and no parents or brothers and sisters then the spouse gets everything. However if there are children the spouse only gets the first £250,000 and a life interest in the balance with the children sharing the rest of the estate.  Note the right to administer the estate goes to the beneficiaries entitled under the intestacy rules.


Other unintended consequences of the intestacy rules

There are other reasons why the operation of the intestacy rules may result in an outcome the deceased would not have wished:

    • The deceased and his/her partner are not married but wanted the surviving partner to inherit        some or all of the estate.
    • The deceased is married and has children but wanted the spouse to inherit all of the estate.
    • The deceased is married but did wish the spouse to get the any part of the estate.
    • The deceased is married but has no children.
    • The deceased is has children from a previous relationship and wishes to guarantee they inherit from the estate.
    • The deceased has relatives who are dependent (child under 18, elderly relatives or relatives with a disability who have special needs).
    • The deceased has no surviving relatives but wanted to leave it to friends or charity – under intestacy the crown takes it instead.
    • The deceased is wealthy and liable to Inheritance Tax and wanted to distribute the assets on death in a tax efficient way.


For more on probate click on the drop down or revisit derby probate solicitors.