What happens to my house if I die without a will?

There are a number of rules which apply to how your home will be dealt with if you die without a will. What happens will depend on how you own the property:

As sole owner:

If you are the sole owner of the property, without a will your property would form part of your estate and be distributed according to the rules of intestacy.

As a tenant in common:

If your home is owned on a tenants in common basis with someone else your share of the property will form part of your estate. Again, without a will, that share will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy.

As a joint tenant:

If you own the property as a joint tenant with someone else, your share of the property will automatically transfer to the other surviving owner. They will then have full ownership and responsibility for the property. This is the case whether or not you have a will.

Intestacy rules

If you die without leaving a will, then the state decides how your estate (money, property, personal processions etc.) is distributed, using their intestacy rules. These rules are thought by many to be old fashioned and more often than not will not reflect what you would have wanted to happen and can mean that key people such as your partner could be excluded.

The rules used can be complicated, but here are some of the highlights:

  • Currently if you are married or in a civil partnership, your partner will get the first £250,000 of your estate and all your possessions, no matter what their value is. The remainder will then get split equally between your surviving partner and any children.
  • If you are not married or in a formal civil partnership your partner will get nothing. The same applies if you are in a common law relationship. Instead your estate will be distributed according to a pre-set hierarchy of blood relatives.
  • If you have been married, got separated, but not divorced your ex could still inherit as if you were married.

When there isn’t a will the whole process of administering and distributing an estate becomes much more complicated and long-winded.

The best way to make sure your estate goes to those you want it to go to when you die is to make a will. Not only will it ensure that no one is left out, but it will make things much easier for those you leave behind. We’ve made it all so simple for you to do, so if you haven’t got round to making yours yet, don’t put it off any longer, give us a go and you could have it sorted in no time at all.

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