What happens to my estate if I die without a Will?

If you die without a valid Will the state will dictate how your money, property and possessions are distributed. It does this by applying a set of rules – the intestacy rules – which don’t always reflect modern family arrangements and may mean your estate is not being distributed as you would have wanted. In particular, unmarried partners are not recognised by the intestacy rules.

The intestacy rules refer to the deceased’s “issue” – that is all his or her direct descendants including adopted and illegitimate children, but not step-children.

If you’re married or in a civil partnership and have issue:

Your surviving spouse/civil partner gets all your personal possessions, the first £250,000 of the estate and half of whatever’s left. Your issue receives the other half.

If you’re married or in a civil partnership but have no issue:

Your spouse or civil partner receives your entire estate.

If you have no spouse or civil partner:

Your estate will be inherited in the following order:

  • Your issue
  • Your parents
  • Your siblings
  • Your half brothers and sisters
  • Your grandparents
  • Your uncles and aunts
  • Your half-uncles and aunts

Who can’t inherit under the intestacy rules?

  • Step children unless they’ve been legally adopted by you
  • Unmarried partners or those not in a civil partnership – irrespective of how long you’ve been living together
  • Relations by marriage
  • Friends
  • Carers

The intestacy rules are complex. This is an overview of some of the situations they cover. To find out more go to the Government’s website, where they have a tool you can use to see of these rules could affect you.

It is easy to see why having a Will is so important. Not only can it make sorting out your affairs much clearer and easier for your friends and family, but it means you have a say in the things that matter to you and no one you care about will be excluded.

By writing your Will with us you can make sure all of the key points are considered and you have a Will which is not only legally valid, but is also tailored to suit your specific needs and those of your family – after all that’s what it is all about.


Related Articles:

What happens to my house if I die without a Will?
Will my partner get anything if I die without a Will?


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