What happens if I die without a Will?

If you die without a will, you are said to have died intestate. Your estate is then managed via intestacy law.

Your estate will be distributed by way of intestacy laws in the following order, with some caveats (Administration of Estates Act 1925, Part IV):

(a) Spouse/civil partner

(b) Children

(c) Parent(s)

(d) Brother(s)/sister(s)

(e) Half brother(s)/half sister(s)

(f) Grandparent(s)

(g) Uncle(s)/aunt(s)

(h) Half uncle(s)/half aunt(s)

The question of who takes what depends on:

  • the size of your estate
  • if any of the relatives are alive at the time of your death
  • if they have obtained a vested interest (an interest - usually in land or money held in trust - recognised as belonging to a particular person)

If you have a surviving spouse/civil partner -

  • if you have no children, your spouse/civil partner gets the entire estate
  • if you have children, your spouse/civil partner your personal goods absolutely with a net sum of £270,000 with interest from the date of your death, plus one half of the balance of your estate. The other half is held on statutory trusts for your children

If you do not have a surviving spouse/civil partner -

  • If you have children, the estate will be held on statutory trusts for them
  • If you don't have children, but you have relatives in any categories of (c) - (h) above, then those relatives take the residuary estate in that order. Eg if you have surviving parents and siblings, your parents will get your whole estate whilst your siblings won't have anything

If you do not have a surviving spouse/civil partner, no children and no relatives in the above categories, your estate will be passed to the Crown or to the Duchy of Lancaster or to the Duke of Cornwall for the time being, as unowned property.

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