What to Do when an Estranged Parent Dies


If you’re estranged from a parent and they die suddenly, you may find yourself having to consider issues you’d not seriously thought about before. For instance, did they make a Will? Are you included in the Will? Could you be required to administer the Estate?

Did Your Parent Make a Will?

If you were estranged from a deceased parent, it’s likely that any other closer relatives will already know if the deceased parent had a Will in place. In that case, the Executor of the Will or the Solicitor handling the Estate may contact you to let you know if anything has been left to you in the Will.

If not, you might need to do the leg work in finding out whether or not a valid Will has been left.

The person who died should have told their Executor/s where the original Will and any updates (codicils) can be found. If you can’t find the original Will, you’ll need to search all the possible places where the Will may have been kept. If you have a copy of the Will you can apply to the Probate Registry for the estate to be administered on the basis of the copy Will.

If a Will hasn't been left that details your estranged parent's wishes, the Estate would need to be dealt with according to the intestacy rules (see below). 

What if I’m Not Mentioned in the Will?

You might locate the Will and discover that your estranged parent hasn’t left you anything at all. Even when decisions to disinherit are made clear, there’s still a chance you might be able to claim a share of the Estate. So if you discover you’ve been disinherited, it’s worth speaking to a Probate Solicitor to find out steps you can take next.

For free initial legal advice get in touch with our Probate Solicitors.

Call us on 0808 239 4634 or request a callback

Will I Have to Distribute the Estate?

If a Will has been left, the responsibility for distributing the Estate falls on the person who’s been named the Executor of the Will. Even if you’ve not had a good relationship with your late parent, you might be their only close family, and therefore find yourself named as Executor in the Will.

This can be a difficult situation to be in at the best of times, but even more so if you were estranged from the deceased. However, our Probate Solicitors can offer a number of solutions including arranging for you to renounce the position or dealing with the administration of the estate on your behalf.

What if they Didn’t Leave a Will?

If your parent didn’t leave a Will, the intestacy rules will apply in England and Wales, which may mean you receive a share of the Estate. However, this depends on whether there is a surviving spouse or civil partner, and whether their Estate is worth more than £250,000.

If your parent doesn’t have a surviving spouse or civil partner, the whole Estate will be split equally between you and your siblings or go to you entirely if you are an only child. If there is a surviving partner the first £250,000 will go to them, with half of the remaining value being split equally between the children. You won’t receive any of the Estate if it's valued under £250,000 and your parent has a surviving partner.

If you have questions following the death of an estranged parent, our Probate Solicitors can advise you on what to do next and can support you if a dispute arises or if you wish to contest a Will.

For free legal advice call our Probate Solicitors

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