Intestacy rules

What is intestacy?

Intestacy occurs when someone dies without making a valid will and their property (estate) will be distributed according to the statutory intestacy rules. The intestacy can be total where no will was left or partial where some but not all of the property is disposed of by a will.

Who is entitled to inheritance?

The rules of intestacy depend on the personal circumstances of the deceased.

  1. If the deceased person was married or in a registered partnership and there are children, grandchildren or great grandchildren:

The partner or spouse will inherit:

  • All of the personal property and belongings;
  • A statutory legacy of £250,000 free of tax plus interest (if the estate is valued more than £250,000); and
  • A life interest in half of the remaining estate.

The surviving children will inherit:

  • The other half of the remaining estate.
  1. If the deceased left a spouse or partner, no children but parents or brothers or sisters:

The partner or spouse will inherit (if they survive the deceased by 28 days):

  • All of the personal property and belongings;
  • The first £450,000 of the estate plus interest (if the estate is valued more than £450,000); and
  • One half of the remaining estate.

The surviving parents/ brothers or sisters will inherit:

  • The other half of the remaining estate
  1. If the deceased left a spouse or partner, no children, no parents or brothers or sisters:

The surviving spouse or partner will be entitled to the whole estate.

  1. If the deceased was not married or in a civil partnership:

The estate will go to either:

  • Children on statutory trusts (if any);
  • Parents;
  • Brothers or sisters of full blood;
  • Brothers or sisters of half blood;
  • Grandparents; or
  • Uncles and aunts.

If none of the above applies the estate will go to the Crown and the Treasury Solicitor is responsible for dealing with the estate.

Who is excluded from the intestacy rules?

The following people have not got the right to inherit if there is no will:

  • Unmarried partners – which is a very good reason to make a will and also to ensure that with a along term relationship you seriously consider a cohabitation agreement – as to what it might include, see here.
  • Relations by marriage (such step children, mother-in-law)
  • Friends
  • Carers

Special rights of the surviving spouse or partner

There are two special statutory rights, which must be exercised within 12 months of the grant of probate (the legal document which confirms the authority to deal with the property). These are:

  • Redemption of life interest (a spouse can choose to take a lump sum instead of receiving trust income)
  • Appropriation of the family home, which depends on the ownership of it:
  • If it was solely owned by the deceased, the whole value of the property will pass to the estate and will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy.
  • If the deceased and the surviving spouse or partner owned the house jointly as tenants in common then the share held by the spouse will still belong to him and the share of the deceased will pass to the estate.
  • If the house was owned jointly as joint tenants the survivorship rule applies and the house will pass to the surviving spouse or partner.

 

This entry was posted in wills & probate and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.