Who Can Inherit My Estate If I Die Without A Will?

Posted by Chris Ringham on Jun 8, 2021 2:45:00 PM

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When you die without a will or without any other binding declaration that states who you wish to inherit your estate, it is called intestacy. All of your property, personal possessions and money become a part of an intestate estate. In these cases, it can be unclear as to who can inherit without a will.

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What Are The Rules Of Intestacy?

Under the rules of intestacy, the married or civil partner of the deceased will automatically inherit all the property, personal belongings and money that belong to the deceased person's estate. However, if the estate is worth more than £270,000 and there are surviving children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren of the deceased, the married or civil partner will inherit all personal property and possessions, the first £270,000 of the intestate estate as well as half of any remaining estate that is left. The children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren could inherit the other half of the remaining estate.

If a person dies without being married or in a civil partnership, their child or children will inherit the estate, which is then divided equally between them. In the case that there are no surviving children, it would pass to the grandchildren and so on. However, the estate is held in trust for any children under the age of 18 until they either reach the age of majority or they marry before the age of 18.

Who Inherits Under Intestacy?

There are several groups of people who can inherit under the rules of intestacy. This can include:

- Married partners

- Civil partners

- Children

- Grandchildren

- Great-grandchildren

- Other close relatives such as parents, siblings, nephews, and nieces

However, not everyone can inherit the contents of your estate if there is no will. Those who cannot inherit include:

- Unmarried partners

- Gay or lesbian partners who have not entered into a civil partnership

- Relations by marriage such as brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law and unadopted step-children

- Unrelated friends or neighbours

- Carers

What Happens If There Are No Surviving Relatives?

In the event that there are no traceable surviving relatives, the estate passes into the hands of the Crown, which is called bona vacantia. Consequently, the Treasury Solicitor takes the responsibility for overseeing the estate. Applications can be made for grants from the estate, but the Treasury Solicitor is under no obligation to allow them.

Is It Possible To Rearrange The Way The Estate Is Shared Out?

A deed of family arrangement or variation can be made if all the people that would normally inherit under the rules of intestacy agree to this. This must be done within two years of a person passing away. It allows other people who would not normally inherit under intestacy rules to be given a share of the estate.

Why Is It Important For Adults To Make A Will?

Making a will ensures that your specific wishes are carried out as you want them to be. If you have individuals or charities that you wish to leave your estate to, then a will can facilitate this. In doing so, you can prevent the people you love from being left financially unprotected and they will receive the share of the will inheritance just as you want them to.

For further advice, please get in touch with us at Bowsers Solicitors

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Image source: Unsplash

Topics: Wills & Probate, Family law