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What is intestate and Intestacy Rules
If the deceased did not leave a will, then they died in intestate.
Dying intestate means your estate will be distributed according to intestacy rules.
When someone dies intestate, the rules of intestacy will control who will be benefit for the deceased’s estate .
Married and Civil Partners
Couples who are recognised by law at the time of death inherit under intestacy rules. Divorced couples can not inherit but, partners who have separated informally, can.
Surviving children are protected under intestacy and will automatically inherit a share of the estate providing the deceased leaves an estate worth more than £250,000. The surviving spouse or partner will benefit from
The first £250,000 of the estate as well as half of the remaining estate. All personal belongings and property of the deceased will remain with the surviving spouse or partner.
If there are no surviving children, then then their share of the estate will pass to grandchildren and then to great-grandchildren. If there are now children then the surviving spouse or partner will inherit the whole of the estate.
Property and Accounts
Jointly owned property will pass from one partner to the other at the time of death. If a property is owned tenants in common then the deceased’s share of the property will not automatically pass to the surviving partner.
On first death any money held in joint bank accounts will pass outside of the estate to the other joint account holder.
Children will inherit providing there is no surviving married or civil partner. If there is a surviving partner then the intestacy rules described earlier are followed. If there is not a surviving spouse or partner the children of the deceased will inherit the entire estate. If there is more than one surviving child then the estate will be distributed between them.
Deed of Variation
It is possible to change the way an estate is distributed providing that all beneficiaries under the intestacy rules agree. This is done using a deed of variation and allows the estate to formally pass to beneficiaries in a way that they may prefer.
Managing an Intestate Estate
An intestate estate will require letters of administration for its distribution. As there is no will and intestacy rules apply in stead of an executor the estate will appoint an administrator. The following people can administer an intestate estate in this order of priority.
1. married or civil partner
2.child of the deceased
3.grandchild of the deceased
4.parent of the deceased
5.brother of sister of the deceased
6.nephew of the deceased
7.another relative of the deceased
You can find more information about estate administration in our executor section.
Things to Consider
Under intestacy rules unmarried couples and relations by marriage can not inherit. The only way you can ensure these people inherit from your estate is to make sure you have a valid will at the time of your death. Writing a will is a simple process and you can follow the links on this site to help ensure you do not die intestate. Care should be given to planning on how to distribute your estate if you have children from a previous marriage. As noted above jointly owned property will bypass your children in favor of the new spouse. Its always a good idea to take advice from a professional if you are trying to cater for a merged family situation within your will.
Use the GOV.UK Intestacy Checker