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Intestacy, What Happens If I Die Without A Will?

Research has shown that one in two UK adults do not have a will in place and a third of those without a will are over the age of 55 years, many owning a residential property that would need to be dealt with on death or individuals likely to receive an inheritance in the future from elderly parents. Reports interestingly show that men are more likely to have made a Will than women. So, what happens if you die intestate without a valid will in place?

The Rules of Intestacy would apply to your estate, these are a statutory set of rules laid out in the Administration of Estates Act 1925 (and last updated on 26 July 2023) which the Administrator of your estate must follow when distributing your estate. Your Estate will consist of any property, land, cash, money held in bank accounts ,stocks, shares, investments and chattels, also known as personal possessions such as cars, jewellery and the contents of your home. The Intestacy rules may not reflect any intentions you may have had for the distribution of assets in your estate to pass to beneficiaries of your choice.

The Administrator who is entitled to apply for a Letter of Administration (which is the legal document required to deal with the liquidation/ encashment of assets in your estate )is also set out in the Administration of Estates Act. This lays down strict rules on who can act to administer your estate. This may not be the person who you would have chosen to deal with your estate.

The Administrator is legally bound to follow the Rules of Intestacy and the individuals entitled to inherit your estate on death are set in the following fixed order:

  • Married couples and legal civil partners. The spouse or civil partner of the deceased will receive chattels, personal items, and any jointly held assets. They will also receive the first £322,000 of the deceased’s estate plus half of everything over that amount.
  • Children and grandchildren. The rest of the estate will pass to any surviving children or their children i.e. grandchildren if they have predeceased ,in equal shares if it is above £322,000 in value.
  • Parents
  • Siblings of the whole blood
  • Siblings of the half blood
  • Grandparents
  • Uncles or aunts of the whole blood
  • Uncles or aunts of the half blood

It is important to note that no provision is made for cohabitees/live in Partners regardless of how long they have lived together in a committed relationship or if they have children with the deceased. This can come as a shock to many in this situation who regard themselves as a common law spouse. There is also no provision for stepchildren regardless of how long they have been treated as a child of the family by the deceased. Where an individual has died with no surviving spouse, civil partner, children, grandchildren, great- grandchildren, Parents, Siblings, Uncles or Aunts and the estate devolves to remoter blood relatives a probate genealogist is usually required to identify and trace the beneficiaries entitled.

Making a Will gives you the opportunity to select executors of your choice that you trust to administer your estate, appoint guardians for your children who are under 18 years of age. It allows you to make adequate provision for your loved ones whether they be a partner, step children, nephews or nieces, friends or charities of your choice that would not have been entitled to benefit under the Intestacy Rules.

Making a will also enables you to take tax planning advice to mitigate the effect of inheritance tax eroding your estate. This ensures that any exemptions/reliefs can be fully utilised, this is especially important now that inheritance tax receipts are currently the highest they have ever been here in the UK.

Please do get in touch if you would now like to put your will in place with one of our friendly expert will-writing professional solicitors who specialise in all areas of Private client matters. Call 0808 271 9413 or request a callback. 

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