When someone dies without first making a valid Will, their estate is divided under the rules of intestacy. These laws can bear little resemblance to the wishes, or the perceived wishes of the Deceased but must be followed nonetheless. The law relating to intestacy can be complex.
However, the most common situations include circumstances where the Deceased has a surviving spouse and surviving children. Here, the surviving spouse is left the first £250,000 in the estate. If the estate is worth more than this then the spouse gets a life interest in half of the remainder and the rest is split equally amongst the children.
- If the Deceased is not married then everything passes to the children to be divided equally between them.
- If the Deceased has a spouse but no children then the spouse is entitled to £450,000 plus half of the remainder before the money trickles down to other relatives.
- If the Deceased has no spouse and no children then the estate will pass to another relative, with the full estate going to the first category of relative that exists. The order for inheritance in this circumstance is: parents, siblings, grandparents and finally aunts or uncles.
It may be possible to challenge an inheritance based on the laws of intestacy using the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
Please click on our diagram below for a comprehensive and clear explanation of intestacy.