What are the rules of intestacy? Wills & Probate

If a person is married or in a civil partnership at the time of their death, then their married partner or civil partner will inherit under intestacy. This remains true even if married or civil partners are informally separated. Cohabiting partners (who are neither married nor in a civil partnership) can’t inherit under these rules.

If a person who dies is married or in a civil partnership and has surviving children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren, along with an estate valued at more than £270,000, their married or civil partner will inherit:

All personal property and belongings of the deceased partner
The first £270,000 of the estate
Half of the remaining estate

If a person who dies is married or in a civil partnership with no surviving children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren then their partner will inherit all personal property and belongings, along with the whole of the estate.

If an intestate person with children has no surviving married or civil partner, their children will inherit their estate. If their children are under the age of 18, then they will not receive this inheritance until they reach the age of 18, unless they marry or form a civil partnership under this age.

Grandchildren or great-grandchildren can’t inherit from an intestate person unless their parent or grandparent died before the intestate person.

Close relatives (such as parents, brothers, sisters, nieces, and nephews) may inherit the estate of an intestate person in certain circumstances. This depends on whether the intestate person has a surviving married or civil partner, children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren, and the amount of the estate.

Who cannot inherit under the rules of intestacy?

The rules of intestacy make it clear who can and cannot inherit in the absence of a will. The list of people who have no right to inherit where someone dies without leaving a will includes:

  • Unmarried partners
  • Lesbian or gay partners not in a civil partnership
  • Relations by marriage
  • Close friends
  • Carers

In some cases, the above individuals can apply to the court for financial provision from the estate. It is advised in these situations that you seek independent legal advice to do this.

What happens if you die without a will and don’t have any surviving relatives?

If a person dies and has no surviving relatives who can inherit under the rules of intestacy, the estate passes to the Crown. This is called bona vacantia. In these cases, a Treasury Solicitor is responsible for dealing with the estate and grants can be made from the estate at their discretion.

Individuals who believe they have a good reason to apply for a grant should seek legal advice in these specific circumstances.

Wills & Estate Planning from Beswicks Legal

While many of us understandably don’t like to dwell on our mortality, making a will is a legally binding way of ensuring your loved ones inherit your estate in the way you envision. We understand that the process can seem overwhelming, however, help is available to support you in putting your affairs in order and protecting your family’s future. At Beswicks Legal, our specialist private wealth solicitors are on hand to help you put the proper arrangements in place and ensure your wishes are carried out. For more information and advice, get in touch with our team today.