Dying Intestate

Although many understand the importance of planning for their future, there are many occasions where a family member may die without a will. We have extensive experience in assisting when a loved one dies without a will, from identifying who administers and benefits from the estate to guiding you through the rules of intestacy.

Dealing With Probate When Someone Dies Without a Will

When someone dies without having a valid will, it is called dying intestate. This means the estate will be determined by rules of intestacy. This will also occur if a person does have a will, but no beneficiaries are named.

The assets, including any property, money, and possessions, will be sold, or transferred, and liabilities will be settled. The leftover balance will then be paid to the beneficiaries. This is known as Administering the Estate.

Once administered, the estate will be distributed in accordance with the legislation. This means that if someone dies without a will, the law will determine who receives the estate and in what share. This means that in many probate cases where there is no will, unmarried or unregistered partners, stepchildren, and stepbrothers and sisters will not inherit anything.

The intestacy rules that determine who gets what can be complicated and errors often arise in the identification of those that are entitled to benefit from the estate. As a result, administrators of estates could be personally liable for any loss resulting from a breach of their duty.

It is thus highly advisable that probate cases, where there is no valid will in place, are dealt with by specialist probate solicitors.

Rules of Intestacy

As described above, the rules of intestacy can be strict and complicated and do not take account of modern family relationships. Below are some simple examples of how an estate may be divided in straight forward situations.

  • If the person who died was married or in a civil partnership with no children, all of their estate will go to their partner.
  • If the person who died was married or in a civil partnership with children, the first £270,000 of their estate will go to their partner together with all the deceased’s personal chattels. Anything over this will be divided between the partner and the children. The partner will receive 50% and the children will receive 50% divided between them.

Examples with modern family relationships:

  • If the person who died was not married or in a civil partnership but was living with their partner, the partner will not be entitled to receive anything.
  • If the person who died was not married or in a civil partnership but did have children, the whole estate will go to them. If there are no children, the estate will instead go to parents, siblings, or other relatives.

Probate When Someone Dies Without a Will Flowchart

You can find our infographic detailing the process here.


Wills, Tax and Probate Testimonials

Very happy with the professional service we received from everyone at Spire in Watton.
Mr & Mrs Linge, Thetford

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Mrs Moore

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