What Happens if I Die Without Making a Will?
If you die without leaving a valid Will, then this is known as ‘dying Intestate’.
With no Will to refer to, administering an Intestate Estate, and deciding who gets what, is governed by the Rules of Intestacy, which are set out in law in England and Wales.
If you die without making a Will and have no living relatives, then all your property and possessions go to the Crown.
If you do have relatives, and you want to leave them something, without making a valid Will they might receive nothing, whereas someone you don’t intend to leave anything to might receive everything.
Over two-thirds of people in the UK have not made a Will, so it’s not uncommon. However, you should strongly consider making a Will and give yourself the peace of mind that your relatives will be taken care of when you’re gone.
Making a Will lets you add other things which are not covered by intestacy rules, including nominating guardians for any children under 18 (often this is a primary reason people make a Will). You can also include specific gifts to friends and charities.
For initial legal advice get in touch with our Wills and Trusts Solicitors.
Who Deals with My Estate?
Only a person who is going to benefit from an Intestate Estate can deal with its administration. This person is not allowed to just divide up the Estate as they wish, they must stick to the Intestacy Rules.
The Rules on Intestacy divide your relatives into classes. A class is simply a group of people who are related to you in the same way. The classes and their order of priority are:
- Surviving spouse or civil partner
- Children or grandchildren
- ParentsWhole blood siblings or their children
- Half-blood siblings or their children
- Whole blood aunts and uncles or their children
- Half-blood aunts and uncles or their children
The Estate’s administrators will work through these classes until they find a living relative. So if you no longer have a surviving spouse or civil partner, they will look to your children as beneficiaries of your Estate, and so on.
In the unlikely event that no living relative can be found, then the Estate passes onto the Crown. There are over 9,000 unclaimed Estates in the UK, which remain on a Government list for 30 years after the date of death. After this, it’s no longer possible to claim the Estate.
Who Gets What Share of My Estate?
Partner by Marriage or Civil Partnership and Children
Not all Estates are valued the same. Your spouse will receive everything up to the value of £250,000. Their personal items are also gifted to you.
Any amount above the £250,000 is divided in two. Half will go to your children when they turn 18 and the other half is added to your spouse’s existing inheritance.
Partner by Marriage or Civil Partnership, but no Children
If you didn’t have any children, then your spouse will inherit everything. Money, property and possessions all go to them. No other family members are considered under Intestacy Rules.
You have Children by no Partner by Marriage or Civil Partnership
Your children will inherit everything and the proceeds are split equally between siblings. If they are under 18 they will have to wait until then to receive their share. Adopted children can inherit, but stepchildren cannot.
No Partner and No Children
The Estate will go to your parents, unless they are deceased also. If they are then the line of succession moves along to other surviving family members in the order of:
- Brothers and Sisters (or nieces and nephews if a sibling has died before you)
- Uncles and aunts (or cousins if an uncle or aunt has died before you)
What Should I Do?
The best way to avoid issues with Intestacy is to seek legal advice from a Wills and Trusts Solicitor to make a valid Will. This should consider all your assets so that no portion of your Estate will be Intestate.
At Simpson Millar, our Wills and Trusts Solicitors are very experienced at Will writing and the surrounding legal issues. We work openly and sensitively with our clients to ensure that they make a Will that considers all of their wishes.
We understand that making a Will might seem like a rather morbid task, but it will give you peace of mind that your wishes can be carried out when you pass on and ensure that family members don’t miss out.
For free legal advice call our Wills & Trusts Solicitors
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