When someone dies without a Will, they are said to have died “intestate” and their estate must be distributed following the rules of intestacy. The intestacy rules are dictated by law in the country where the Deceased was domiciled. Unfortunately, understanding who inherits under the rules of intestacy is not always as straightforward as it may seem.
Under the rules of intestacy in England and Wales (for example), if the Deceased has a living husband, wife or civil partner and the estate (in the sole name of the Deceased) is not worth more than £270,000, the spouse or civil partner is entitled to everything. Joint assets pass by survivorship unless specific arrangements over those joint assets have been made.
When the estate is worth more than £270,000 and the person who died has children, the children will receive half of the remaining estate over the £270,000 threshold and the spouse or civil partner is entitled to the other half. If the person who died did not have a spouse or civil partner but did have children, the estate would be equally split between the children – or their issue (the deceased’s grandchildren) if they have pre-deceased.
Leaving behind a well-written and valid Will can make the estate administration process clearer and more straightforward. It can often prevent unnecessary stress for loved ones at an already difficult time. If a valid and up-to-date Will has been left, there is a clear outline of how the estate will be distributed, identifying beneficiaries and exactly what they will be inheriting from the estate.
If you require advice regarding what happens when someone dies without a Will, please contact us.
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