Rules of Intestacy
UK intestacy rules are the laws that apply when someone dies without leaving a Will. In the absence of a valid Will, it is these rules that decide how a person’s estate (an estate is another word for everything they owned including money, property, possessions and debt) is distributed after they die. In other words, an individual who dies without having a Will in place is described as having died intestate, which means that the estate will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy.
In England and Wales, the rules of intestacy state the deceased’s estate must pass to their closest relative or relatives. It is possible the intestate estate will pass to a spouse or civil partner or if there is no spouse or civil partner it will pass to the next ‘blood” relative in accordance with the intestacy rules. It should be noted that blood relatives include legally adopted children.
Who is eligible to inherit?
Married couples or civil partners are the first in line. They inherit from an intestate estate if they are married or in a civil partnership at the time of the death – they will not inherit if they are divorced, or their civil partnership has been legally ended. It is really important to note that unmarried partners, however long-term the relationship and even if they have children together, will not inherit under the laws of intestacy in the UK.
The Strict Hierarchy for Order of Distribution
When a person dies without leaving a valid Will, their property (the estate) must be shared out according to the strict UK Intestacy Rules and after all liabilities including Inheritance Tax have been paid.
The deceased had a spouse or civil partner but no children
If the deceased was married or in a civil partnership without children, the surviving spouse or civil partner inherits the entire estate.
The deceased had a spouse or civil partner and the deceased had children.
If the deceased was married or in a civil partnership and had children, and the estate is worth more than £322,000, then the surviving spouse or civil partner will inherit all personal possessions, the first £322,000 of the estate, and half of the remaining estate. Any blood related or legally adopted children will inherit half of the remaining estate and the amount will be divided equally between any all the children. Please note that under the rules of intestacy, stepchildren will not inherit.
The deceased was unmarried with children
If the deceased is unmarried the estate will be shared equally between any blood related or legally adopted children.
The deceased was unmarried with no children then the following applies:
Parents – if the deceased had no children but their parents are still living, the estate will be shared equally between any surviving parents.
Siblings (Brothers and Sisters) – if there are no living parents but the deceased leaves surviving siblings, then the estate is distributed equally among full siblings. In the absence of full siblings, half siblings are next in line.
Grandparents – if there are no siblings, then the estate passes to living grandparents who will share the inheritance equally between them.
Aunts and Uncles – if you have no living grandparents then your estate passes to your aunts and uncles, who will share your estate equally between them. If you have no aunts or uncles, then your estate passes to the Crown.
If there are no eligible heirs – then the estate passes to the Crown – when this happens, it is known as Bona Vacantia.
The above is a brief outline on the rules of intestacy and how it may affect the distribution of your Estate if you do not have a valid Will in place.
Ward Williams can assist you with preparing your Will in line with your wishes and also review any Estate planning opportunities that are available to you.
As a member of the Society of Will Writers, Dipesh can assist you with putting a valid Will in place and offer specialist advice with succession planning. To contact Dipesh call 01932 830664 or email email@example.com.