What happens if someone dies without leaving a will? Who receives what from their estate? In this Dying Intestate Flowchart, we show you how the estate will be distributed dependent on whether there is a marriage or partnership, and whether there are children of the deceased.
Understand The Rules With Our Dying Intestate Flowchart
If someone in the UK dies without a will, their estate is divided based on a kind of automatic will – the Rules of Intestacy. These rules are complicated. That’s why we’ve created our dying intestate flowchart.
Because the grief that follows the passing of a loved one is difficult enough. Dealing with legal complexity on top is very unpleasant indeed.
So here is everything you need to know about how dying intestate works in the UK in a handy visual format (with a full written explainer):
What Are The Rules Of Intestacy?
If a person dies “testate” (having made a will) as long as it is legally valid, that document will govern how their estate (all of their money, property, and possessions) are divided. If someone dies “intestate” (having not made a will) the law, the so-called “Rules of Intestacy”, decide.
Under the Rules of Intestacy, only people who are very closely related to – or, more often, married to or in a civil partnership with – the deceased can automatically inherit.
However, who inherits when there is no will in the UK follows a very specific order of priority. There is also an important £270 000 figure to bear in mind. It’s all much easier to understand in a visual format.
How Does Our Dying Intestate Flowchart Work?
All you need is a little information (or estimation) about the family relationships of the person in question and the size of their estate. Then, simply follow the chart through, answering “yes” or “no” where appropriate to see how the Rules of Intestacy are likely to apply in this case.
Of course, this is no substitute for the guidance and knowledge of an experienced probate solicitor. It is enough to get some idea of the situation you are in (or could be in) though.
It also goes to show you how vital it is to have a legally valid will created by a professional solicitor. The Rules of Intestacy are not always the fairest way to distribute the assets of someone who has passed away. They are a fallback option when there is no will or a will is legally invalid.
Who Inherits When There Is No Will In The UK?
The easiest way to understand the order of inheritance is visually through our dying intestate flowchart – UK law is complicated!
Following the chart, you can see the order of who inherits when there is no will goes like this:
1) Married And Civil Partners
Surviving married and civil partners are at the first “level” of priority under the Rules of Intestacy. Even if you can answer “yes” to this, be aware that:
- If you are separated informally, you can still inherit
- If you are formally divorced or your partnership is legally ended, you cannot inherit
- If you are cohabiting and not married by law, you cannot inherit
Also, as you’ll see from the flowchart, you need to know the value of the estate. If it is valued below £270 000, a surviving married or civil partner will get it all under intestacy law.
If the estate is valued above that £270 000 limit though, the partner will still get all of the personal possessions of the deceased and everything up to that £270 000. But anything over that is split 50/ 50 with any surviving children or grandchildren. Only if there are no children will a partner get it all.
2) Surviving Children And Grandchildren
As a surviving child or grandchild of the deceased, you might expect to inherit the following:
• If there is a surviving married or civil partner – a share of half of any value of the estate above £270 000.
• If there is no surviving partner – an equal split of the whole estate with any other children or grandchildren.
3) Other Close Relatives In A Set Order
As you can see from our dying intestate flowchart, after any surviving partner or children and grandchildren have been considered, the order of priority goes like this:
- Surviving parents
- Surviving siblings of the deceased (or the children of siblings if the sibling is deceased)
- Surviving half-brothers or half-sisters of the deceased (or their children if they are deceased)
- Surviving grandparents
- Surviving half-aunts or half-uncles
In the event that there are no candidates for inheritance on this list, the estate will go to the crown.
Do You Need A Solicitor If Someone Dies Intestate?
If someone you know dies intestate and their estate is a complex one, calling in some legal expertise is almost certainly a good idea. Equally, if the terms of a will are unclear or you suspect it is invalid, getting legal advice should always be your first step.
How about talking it over with a friendly, approachable solicitor for FREE and with no obligation to use their services?