When a person dies intestate (without making a will), their estate will be divided according to a set statutory of rules – the intestacy rules.
These rules dictate that the spouse or civil partner will receive the first £322,000 of the estate, plus the deceased’s personal effects. If there are any further assets, these will be split 50/50 between the spouse or civil partner and any children, grandchildren or great grandchildren (birth or adopted). If there are no children, grandchildren or great grandchildren, the whole estate will go to the spouse or civil partner.
If there is no will and a couple is separated but have not divorced or dissolved a civil partnership, the estranged spouse/civil partner may also inherit.
It is important to remember that this only applies to those who are married or in a civil partnership. There is no such thing as a ‘common law marriage’, so unless there is a will, no matter how long a couple has been cohabiting, the deceased’s wishes may not be followed. The intestacy rules, which are strict, will apply.
Many people assume that if they don’t make a will, their estate will be shared between their immediate family, say their partner and children with this partner when they die. This is not true. All children are treated equally, so any children from a previous relationship will be included. However, unless they are adopted, stepchildren will receive nothing.
Read our intestacy web page, to find out how your estate will be distributed if you die without having made a will.
The only way you can control the decision as to who will inherit your estate is to make a will. Contact our private client specialists who have many years’ experience and can guide you through the process.
If someone dies intestate, it is important that you are confident that their estate is administered correctly. Contact our private client advisors now for advice.
Author: Laura Cowan, head of Graysons’ private client team.