What Happens if You Die Without a Will?

 

What Happens if You Die Without a Will?

If someone dies without a Will, they are said to have died ‘intestate’. This means that their estate is administered according to intestacy rules set out by the government. 

Dying intestate means that someone’s assets are not passed on to the people that the deceased may have wanted. Distributing an estate according to the rules of intestacy may also mean that certain people miss out on an inheritance they believe they are reasonably entitled to. 

In this blog, our specialist Estate Administration Solicitors answer some frequently asked questions about intestacy. 

What happens when someone dies without a Will? 

Dying without a Will means you die ‘intestate’. Administering the estate of someone who has died intestate can take more time and be a more complicated process than sorting out the estate of someone who left a Will.  

If there is no Will, who administers the estate? 

The most ‘entitled’ person can apply to become the estate administrator. This is usually the closest living relative, according to the following order of priority: 

  • Married partner or civil partner of the person who has died. 
  • Child of the person who has died. 
  • Grandchild of the person who has died. 
  • Parent of the person who has died. 
  • Brother or sister of the person who has died. 
  • Nephew or niece of the person who has died. 
  • Another relative of the person who has died. 

This person must apply for a ‘grant of letters of administration’ to make them the ‘administrator’ of the estate. This allows them to value the estate, pay any debts and distribute the estate according to the intestacy rules. 

What are the rules of intestacy in England and Wales? 

Many people assume that their closest loved ones will inherit everything when they die, even when there is no Will. However, that is not always the case. 

The rules of intestacy state: 

  • Only partners who are married or in civil partnerships at the time of the deceased’s death can inherit under intestacy rules.  
  • Cohabiting partners cannot inherit under the rules of intestacy. 
  • Relations by marriage, close friends and carers cannot inherit. 
  • If there are surviving children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren of the person who died and the estate is valued at more than £322,000, the partner will inherit: 
    • All the personal property and belongings of the person who has died. 
    • The first £322,000 of the estate. 
    • Half of the remaining estate. 
  • If there are no surviving children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren, the partner will inherit: 
    • All the personal property and belongings of the person who has died. 
    • The whole of the estate with interest from the date of death. 

If there is no surviving partner, the children of a person who has died without a Will inherit the whole estate, regardless of how much it is worth. If there are two or more children, the estate will be divided equally between them. 

In England and Wales, the order of priority after children is: 

  • Living parents. 
  • Full-blood siblings. 
  • Half-blood siblings. 
  • Grandparents. 
  • Aunts/uncles. 
  • Half-blood aunts/uncles. 

To find out more about who is entitled to a share of someone’s money, property and possessions if they die without a Will, click here. 

Administering an estate according to the rules of intestacy can be complicated.  

At Bookers & Bolton, our experienced probate solicitors can assist in distributing an intestacy estate.  

For more information about how we can help with estate administration issues, please get in touch with us on 01420 82881, email us at enquiries@bookersandbolton.co.uk or make an online enquiry here.  

Can you challenge the intestacy rules? 

The rules of intestacy can’t be challenged as such. However, if you believe you are entitled to a share of an estate, you might be able to bring a claim under the Inheritance Act. 

Specialist legal advice is vital. A solicitor with experience in contentious probate claims can advise on the best way to proceed. 

When does an estate pass to the government? 

When someone dies without a Will, and there are no surviving relatives who can inherit under the rules of intestacy, the estate passes to the Crown (known as ‘bona vacantia’).  

The best way to protect your family, assets, and interests in the event of your death is by writing a Will.  

Our specialist private client lawyers are experienced in providing legal advice on all matters relating to making and updating a Will. We understand how important it is for you to make decisions about your future and are here to help you do that in the easiest way possible. 

While you might be tempted to use cheap, unregulated online Will writing services or create a DIY one at home, a Will is an important document and should be prepared by a specialist. Click here to read more about the importance of using a solicitor to write a Will. 

For legal advice from our experienced Wills team, please contact us on 01420 82881, email us at enquiries@bookersandbolton.co.uk or make an online enquiry here.  

Wills and Probate Solicitors Alton, Hampshire 

We understand that the death of a loved one is an upsetting time, and you may find the thought of dealing with their estate overwhelming. 

At Bookers & Bolton, our specialist legal team are equipped to handle every type of estate administration matter for estates of all amounts and sizes and are on hand to relieve some of the pressure by providing support to executors or administrators.  

If you need to write or update a Will, we also have a team of experienced Will writing solicitors who can help. From our offices in Alton, Hampshire, our friendly and approachable solicitors assist clients in the local area with their Will-writing needs.  

If you are too busy to come in to the office, we can do your Will remotely, working with you via video call and using our electronic ID system. 

We are very approachable and are happy to speak to you initially over the telephone. We can arrange to visit you at home if you have impaired mobility and can provide you with booklets in Braille or recorded form. 

We are an innovative law firm and progressive in using new technology so that your Will and other precious documents will never be lost. We have a significant insurance policy to cover us all in the rare event of something going wrong, so you can relax knowing that your future is taken care of.  

Get in Touch 

For legal advice from our experienced Wills and Probate team, please get in touch with us on 01420 82881, email us at enquiries@bookersandbolton.co.uk or make an online enquiry here. 

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