When a person passes away without a Will, or has a Will that is considered invalid, they are considered to die ‘intestate’.
What happens to your estate will be governed by the intestacy rules according to where you live in the UK. The rules follow an order of succession in regard to who will benefit from the estate first.
In England and Wales, the first person who will benefit from some of the estate is your surviving spouse or civil partner. If the estate is worth less than £270,000 or you have no children, your spouse will receive the whole estate. If it is worth more though, what happens depends on whether you have children or not.
If you have children, the estate will be split slightly differently.
Your spouse will receive the first £270,000 and all your personal belongings, and the remaining amount is split equally, with half going to your spouse and the other half being split equally between your children. If any children have predeceased you, then their share will pass to any children, your grandchildren, that they have left behind.
It is worth mentioning that this rule only applies to spouses and civil partners, it does not apply if you are not married or in a civil partnership.
2, Children and direct descendants
If you are separated and not yet divorced, your spouse or civil partner can still inherit under these rules. However, their right under these rules is revoked as soon as you are divorced or the civil partnership is dissolved.
If you no longer have a spouse, or were never married or in a civil partnership, the next to inherit under the rules would be any children. The estate will be split equally between them, and once again, if any child has predeceased you, their share will go to any children they leave behind.
Whilst adopted children have the same rights as natural children, step-children will not be considered and so will not inherit under these rules
Although many people will outlive their parents, if you do not have a spouse or children, and a parent is still alive, they will inherit the first 50% of your estate.
If your parents have predeceased you, the next in line to inherit your estate will be any siblings, who will receive the estate in equal share. As with children, if your siblings have predeceased you, their share will go to any children that they leave behind.
Following these rules, should a beneficiary still not be found, the list will continue as follows:
5, Half brothers and sisters
7, Aunts and uncles
8, Half aunts and uncles
9, The Crown
As you can see, without making a Will your estate is left in the hands of fate, with no control over where it will go. In the worst case it could go to a person you really would not like to benefit under your estate, such as a disowned child or separated spouse.
Equally, a much-loved partner could also end up with nothing if you are not married or in a civil partnership, or step-children would not be considered at all.
It is always best to protect your family and your estate by making a Will, so that your wishes clear.
Services from legalmatters during Covid-19 pandemic
Here at legalmatters, we continue to do everything we possibly can to service our existing and new clients during these very difficult times.
Our ability to provide remote services makes us stand out from the crowd. This means that you can deal with your will, power of attorney, probate, trust and tax advice etc all over the phone or by email and documents are sent to you by post. We are also advising our clients on signature processes bearing in mind social distancing measures.
Meanwhile, the office continues to operate with minimal skeleton staff for the protection of our staff, clients and visitors, enabling us to still process physical documents for our clients. If you do find that you need to call into the office for instance to have documents witnessed when it is otherwise difficult for you to arrange that with family and friends then do please get in touch.
If you would like to speak to one of our expert lawyers about your Will, ring us on 01243 216900 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org