The RULES of intestacy explained

Picture the scene: You’ve worked hard all your life, have a lovely house, a little nest egg squirrelled away, and a wonderful family to share it with. Your home is insured, your car is insured. But, there’s one fundamental thing you’ve forgotten do to. MAKE A WILL…!

According to recent research conducted by Will Aid the number of UK adults who have actually made a will is on the up. With 48% of those surveyed saying they have a will, that’s a 4% growth from their 2013 study. Interestingly the demographic that showed the strongest growth was the 25-34 age bracket where the percentage with a will has doubled. While 55% of those who are married or in a civil partnership a have written a Will AND, there has been a big increase in the percentage of separated people with a Will – up to 48.00% this year from 41.30% in 2013, and from only 25.50% in 2012.

That’s who HAS a will. Let’s have a look at who DOESN’T…

Will Aid reports that almost 70% of cohabiting couples (married or in a civil partnership) have no Will. The survey also found that 56% parents have no Will AT ALL with a further 23%, whilst they do have a Will, have not named guardians. This means that 79% of parents with dependent children have not named guardians for them.

Who inherits when there is no will? When presented with the stats it’s not inconceivable for any of us to have a close friend of relative die intestate i.e without a will. What, in practice does that mean for those of us that are left behind?

The 2015 UK rules of Intestacy go a little like, well exactly like, this*:

Will only inherit if they are married or in a civil partnership at the time of death, this includes those that are informally separated. If you are divorced or your civil partnership has been legally ended you cannot inherit.

If the estate is valued at over £250,000 and there are surviving children, grandchildren or great grandchildren, the partner will inherit all personal property and belongings of the deceased, the first £250,000 AND half of the remaining estate. If there are NO surviving children, grandchildren or great grandchildren to the total value of the estate goes to the deceased legal partner.

There are two ways of jointly owning a property, these are: beneficial joint tenancies or tenancies in common. For those who are in a beneficial joint tenancy your partner will automatically inherit your half of the property upon your death, those who are tenants in common will not. Similarly if you have joint bank accounts the surviving partner will retain control and all monies available.

Please note, property and money that the surviving partner inherits does not count as part of the estate of the person who has died when it is being valued for the intestacy rules.

Children of the deceased will automatically inherit everything if there is no surviving legal partner. If there is a surviving partner they will inherit only if the estate is worth more that £250,000 (see above), all the children of the parent who has died intestate inherit equally from the estate. This also applies where a parent has children from different relationships.

A child whose parents are not married or have not registered a civil partnership can inherit from the estate of a parent who dies intestate, providing the deceased parents name appears on their birth certificate. These children can also inherit from grandparents or great-grandparents who have died intestate.

Adopted children (including step-children who have been adopted by their step-parent) have rights to inherit under the rules of intestacy. But otherwise you have to be a biological child to inherit.

Children will only receive their inheritance once they reach 18 or enter into civil partnership or marriage under the age of 18. Until either of these events occur Trustees will be appointed to manage their inheritance on their behalf.

Grandchildren and great grandchildren CANNOT inherit from a grandparent that has died intestate UNLESS their parent has predeceased the Grandparent OR their parent is alive when the intestate person dies but dies before reaching the age of 18 without having married or formed a civil partnership.

Other close relatives, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews can inherit from the intestate relatives estate providing there is no surviving legal partner, children or grandchildren.

If there are no surviving BLOOD relatives the entire estate goes to the crown! However if you believe you have a good reason to make a claim to the deceased estate you’ll need proper legal advice. You find more information on the website here.


  • Unmarried partners
  • Lesbian or gay partners not in a civil partnership
  • Relations by marriage
  • Close friends
  • Carers

So, if you are one of the 52% of all UK adults that DON’T have a will and want to make sure your estate goes to the people you want it to you  really need to speak to us here at Future Legal Services. We provide full and professional and straight forward advice on every aspect of your will(s), so call us today on 01322  664885 to arrange an appointment with one of our highly trained and experienced consultants.



*correct according to the UK government at time of writing 11.09.15
* Sources: CAB and Will Aid

Recommended Posts