Machins Solicitors LLP
Leading Solicitors in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire & Buckinghamshire
  • Luton: 01582 514000
  • Berkhamsted: 01442 872311
  • Hemel Hempstead: 01442 345047

Intestacy rules

Intestacy rules govern how a person’s estate is dealt with where a valid will has not been made, or if the will is not sufficient by itself.

If you die without a will the people who will receive your assets will be decided from a statutory list of priority, as described below:

If you die leaving a surviving spouse or civil partner but no children: 

The surviving spouse or civil partner will inherit the whole estate.

If you die leaving a surviving spouse or civil partner and children: 

If your total estate is less than £250,000, the surviving spouse or civil partner will inherit the whole estate.

If your total estate is more than £250,000, the surviving spouse or civil partner will inherit the first £250,000 and all of your personal possessions. Anything left over is divided in two, with 50% passing to the spouse or civil partner and the other 50% to the child or children.

If you die leaving no surviving spouse or civil partner but you leave children:

The whole of your estate will pass to the children.

Other scenarios:

If you die leaving no surviving spouse or civil partner or children, the following list of priority will apply. If there are any relatives that fall into these classes, the estate will be divided between them and the relatives in the lower classes will not receive anything:

A similar list of priority will determine who the administrators of your estate will be. These are people who will be responsible for administering the estate, which is an important role. If you have prepared a will these people are called ‘executors’.

It is noticeable that the intestacy rules do not provide for unmarried partners to receive anything in the event of their partner dying. To avoid this happening, it is particularly important for unmarried couples to prepare wills if they want their partner to inherit all or part of their estate when they die. Without a will, a surviving partner may receive nothing.