If a person dies without making a Will, their estate will pass and be administered according to the Intestacy Rules. These rules set out who will get what and who will administer the estate.
The next of kin will usually be the administrators (personal representatives) and must apply to the probate registry for the power to deal with the estate and obtain ‘letters of administration’.
The beneficiaries under an intestacy will depend on the total net value of the estate.
The Intestacy Rules:
- If you have a spouse, and children, your spouse will receive £250,000 outright, plus a life interest in half of what’s over. Your children will receive outright the remaining half of what is over above the £250,000, and the other half following your death.
- If you are not married, but have children, your partner will get nothing, and everything will be divided between the children.
- If you are unmarried and have no children or other relatives, everything goes to the Crown.
From 1st October 2014, if a person dies without having made a will, leaving a surviving spouse or civil partner but no children, the surviving spouse will inherit everything.
Where there are surviving children and a surviving spouse, the spouse gets the Statutory Legacy of £250,000, the personal belongings and half of everything else outright. The children then get the remaining half share on trust until they reach the age of 18. Previously the spouse would only be entitled to the income of the half share which on her/his death would pass to the children.
The Statutory Legacy will also increase, at least every 5 years, in line with the consumer price index.
Other rules apply in respect of other relatives who may take where there is no spouse or children.
Bertie’s Legal Tips:-
- Carefully check the family tree
- Adopted children have a right to inherit under an intestacy
- Unmarried partners, friends and carers can never inherit under an intestacy
- Personal Representatives should protect themselves from personal liability by giving notice under S27 of the Trustee Act 1925.
Married person with childrenSpouse gets everything up to £250,000 together with all personal possessions. Anything remaining is divided into two:-
- Half to the children at 18 or earlier marriage.
- Half in trust during the surviving spouse's lifetime. On spouse's death this half goes to the children.
- If a child predeceases, leaving issue, his issue will take his share between them.
Married person, no childrenIf there are parents, brothers or sisters of the whole blood, nephew or nieces:- Spouse gets everything up to £200,000 and all personal possessions. Anything remaining is divided into two:-
- Half of this goes to spouse
- Half to parents. If no parent is living then it goes to brothers or sisters or their children.
Unmarried person with childrenEstate goes to children at 18 or earlier marriage. If a child predeceases, leaving issue, his issue take per stirpes.
Unmarried person with no children
- Estate goes to parents.
- If none, then to siblings of the whole blood or their issue.
- If none, then to siblings of the half blood or their issue.
- If none, then to grandparents.
- If none, then to uncles and aunts of the whole blood or their issue.
- If none, then to uncles and aunts of the half blood or their issue.