Intestacy: what happens if you die without making a Will?

If you die without having made a Will, which is known as intestacy, the Inheritance and Trustees’ Power Act 2014 decides who inherits your Estate according to their familial connection to you.

This means people who have been the closest to you could lose out, and others might suffer unnecessary hardship. Making a Will is the only way to make sure your plans and intentions happen.

Intestacy rules

  • Everything which you own jointly with another person, which may include your home or bank account, will pass automatically to the surviving owner.
  • Everything that is in your sole name is distributed by what are known as the rules of intestacy.
  • Intestacy rules don’t consider who was closest to you emotionally, or who are the people most in need of their inheritance.
  • If there are no surviving relatives, the Estate will pass automatically to the Crown and HM Treasury becomes responsible for administering the Estate.

Example case – married couple with children

Dying intestate can have a devastating impact on those left behind. If one spouse of a married husband and wife with children dies, the survivor will be entitled to personal belongings to the first £250,000 of the Estate.

However, anything in excess of that will be divided into two equal parts.  The surviving spouse will be entitled to the income only, but not the capital, from the first half. The second half will go directly to the children. In other words, the surviving husband or wife will not necessarily receive everything.

Example case – unmarried couple with children

An unmarried couple with children could experience even more devastation if one dies intestate.

For example, the couple might have lived together for 20 or 30 years or more, but the survivor will not be entitled to anything at all under the rules of intestacy. The consequences of that could be very difficult for them in terms of their financial security.

What your Will needs to say

A Will is a document that states who your possessions, money and property will go to when you die, and other information. A Will can be relatively simple, or might require some complex legal arrangement to ensure your wishes are upheld.

How to make a Will (and avoid intestacy rules)

If you have never written a Will, we recommend you get professional guidance to ensure its contents are legally sound. Should you have a Will, but it hasn’t been updated in some time, it would be wise to review it with your solicitor. Our professional advisers provide a sympathetic and efficient service, treating each case on an individual basis to ensure the solutions we offer are best for you personally.

Why choose Napthens?

  • Cases handled with sensitivity and professionalism
  • Highly experienced, specialists in Estate Planning and in inheritance disputes
  • Clear advice tailored to your wishes and personal situation
  • Specialists in complex personal and financial situations