Dying without a will

Crowd Of People From AboveDying without a will is unfortunately a rather common problem in the United Kingdom. This is known as dying intestate. The estate of a person who has died without making a valid will is distributed according to the intestacy rules.

As of 1 October 2014, if you die without a will, then your surviving spouse or civil partner will inherit everything if you have no children.

But if you have children, including adopted children, then your surviving spouse or civil partner will receive the statutory legacy of up to £250,000, your personal belongings and half of the rest of your estate. Your personal belongings (or chattels) are anything that can be touched and moved. It does not include:

  • money or security for money
  • any property used as the time of your death for business purposes only
  • any property you owned at the time of your death as an investment only, these could include the purchase of bonds, stocks or real estate property.

As yet, "investment" and "business purposes" have not been defined, so if you own property or assets that may fall into these categories, you should seek legal advice as to who would inherit them.'

Your surviving children will then receive the remaining half but they will have to wait until they reach the age of 18 to access it.

The statutory legacy of £250,000 will increase at least every five years in line with the consumer price index.

The changes also abolish the concept of the life interest, meaning that your partner could take income from the money, but not the capital. But seeing that this has been abolished your surviving spouse will take all of the first £250,000 and then be fully entitled to half of the remainder.

In summary, after your surviving spouse receives the statutory legacy, your estate goes to your next of kin in the following order or priority:

  1. children or their descendants
  2. parents
  3. brothers or sisters or their descendants
  4. half siblings or their descendants
  5. grandparents
  6. uncles or aunts or their descendants
  7. half-uncles or half-aunts or their descendants
  8. whole estate passes to the crown (bona vacantia) 

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