If you die without a Will, you will be considered to have died intestate. This means that your estate will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy. If your Will can not be found, has been destroyed, or is no longer valid, the rules of intestacy will still apply.
Who Inherits Under The Rules Of Intestacy
Under the rules of intestacy, only married or civil partners and other close relatives can inherit. Unfortunately, consideration is not given to the more modern family. Consequently, cohabiting, but unmarried and unregistered partners can not inherit. This means that the surviving partner won’t automatically gain control of any property or assets. Also, only natural and adopted children are recognised for the purpose of inheritance, therefore step-children are not acknowledged.
Who inherits from the estate is largely dependent on several factors
- how much the estate is worth
- if they were married or in a civil partnership at the time of their death
- if they had children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren
Exactly who inherits under each set of circumstances is outlined in the graph below…
What Happens If There Are No Surviving Relatives
If you die intestate, without leaving any surviving relatives that are able to inherit, your estate passes to the Crown.
It is possible to make alternative arrangements as to how the estate is distributed, but this must be done within the first two years after death. It is referred to as making a deed of family arrangement or variation. For this to take place, everyone who would inherit under the rules of intestacy must agree.
If everyone agrees, the distribution of the estate can be rearranged in order to:
- include those that do not inherit under the rules of intestacy
- change the amounts each person gets from those set out by the intestacy rules
What You Can Do
The only way that you can make it clear who you want to inherit, and to ensure your assets go the the people you want to, is to write your Will.
To find out more about how we can help you to protect your past and secure your future, simply complete the contact form below.