What happens if I die without a will?

what-happens-if-i-die-without-a-will-blogWhat happens if I die without a will? – That is a common question that many people ask me.

There is no guarantee that the people you love will be provided for after your death unless you make a will.

The UK government has a strict process for those who die intestate – without a will.

An administrator is appointed by the government to deal with the estate. Your next of kin – husband, wife, civil partner, or child – can apply to be the administrator by seeking a grant of representation.

If allowed, they have to fill in an inheritance tax form and value your estate.

They have to inform your bank or mortgage company, pay off debts, and distribute the estate. Then, accounts have to be prepared and signed by the beneficiaries.

It can be a difficult, distressing, and lengthy process.

Here’s how the law is applied

Your wife, husband, or civil partner – will inherit only if they are in a marriage or partnership at the time of your death. That does include those who are informally separated. They cannot inherit if divorced or the civil partnership has been ended.

If your estate is valued at more than £250,000 and you have children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren, your partner or spouse will inherit your personal property, all of the first £250,000 and half of the remaining estate.

If you have no children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren, all of the estate will go to your legal partner.

Property which is jointly owned – this depends on whether you have a beneficial joint tenancy or a tenancy in common. A beneficial join tenant would inherit your half of your property, but tenants in common will not.

For joint bank accounts, the surviving partner would retain control over them and all the money in them. Whatever property or money a surviving partner inherits will not be counted as part of your estate under intestacy rules.

Children – If you have a surviving legal partner, your children only inherit if the estate is valued at more than £250,000. If no legal partner survives you, your children will automatically inherit everything. All of them, including half siblings, inherit equally if you die intestate.

Children whose parents aren’t married or in a civil partnership can inherit provided the deceased parent’s name is on their birth certificate. They can also inherit from the estate of an intestate grandparent or great grandparent, provided there are no surviving parents.

Adopted children, including adopted step-children, also have rights to inherit in the rules on intestacy.

Children inherit when they are 18 or when they enter into a marriage or civil partnership before that age. Until then, trustees will manage their inheritance on their behalf.

Other close relatives – Relatives like brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews can inherit provided there are no surviving legal partners, children, or grandchildren.

If you die without close blood relatives – your estate reverts to the Crown.

The people who cannot inherit under intestacy rules – include unmarried partners, partners in same-sex relationships who are not married or don’t have a civil partnership, relations by marriage, close friends, or carers.

Dying intestate could put a terrible strain on your surviving relatives, a message which is simply not being heeded by a large number of people.

A shocking 70% co-habiting couples – people who are at risk of losing their homes if their partner dies – say they don’t have a will, research by Will Aid found. It also found that 56% of parents have no will, with 23% more having a will which does not name guardians for their children.

In total, just 48% of people surveyed by Will Aid had a will.

Yet, we all have the power to make the process simpler and far less distressing by making a valid will with clear provisions for the people we love. A qualified solicitor can draw up a will which would ensure your wishes will be carried out.

Find out more about the intestacy process here: https://www.gov.uk/wills-probate-inheritance/if-the-person-didnt-leave-a-will

For expert legal advice and will writing, call me on 029 2056 7836 or email me using the contact page

Rhys Lloyd Thomas,



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