Dying without a will – who gets your estate?

Intestacy Provisions

Many people believe that if you are married and die without a valid Will in place, your estate passes automatically to your spouse.  Unfortunately, this is not necessarily the case and some people are finding that they don’t inherit as they thought they would. 

If you die without a Will, your estate is distributed in accordance with intestacy law and will therefore pass to various family members depending upon the circumstances of the deceased and the value of the estate.  This could mean that the person that you wanted to inherit does not!

If you are married without children, the entire estate will pass to your spouse.

If you are married with children, the first £270,000 will pass to your spouse.  Anything over and above this amount will be divided into two equal shares.  Your spouse will receive one share and the remaining share will be divided equally between your children.

If you are not married with children, your estate will be divided equally between your children.

If you are not married and have no children, your estate will be divided between whatever relatives are alive at the date of your death.  If your parents have survived you, your estate will pass to them.  If you have no parents but do have brothers and sisters, then your estate your will pass to them in equal shares.  The list of beneficiaries becomes more remote depending on who survives you.  Your estate therefore could pass to distant cousins that you perhaps have never met!

If you are not married but have a partner, that person would not inherit anything from your estate although, depending on the circumstances, that person could have a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependents) Act but bringing such a claim is costly both in money and time.

It is preferable to spend a little time thinking of who you would like to benefit from your worldly goods and to make a Will.

If you would like further information about Wills please contact us.