If a person dies without leaving a valid will, their estate will be subject to the rules of intestacy.
This means that their estate will be divided depending on their marital status, if they have children, the value of the estate and so on.
However, this can present problems, as the deceased (or their family) will not have full rights to distribute their wealth in the way that they wish.
They may also need to pay inheritance tax.
The rules of intestacy are as follows:
If the person who died was married/in a civil relationship and has children:
The first £322,000 of their estate will go to their spouse or civil partner, as well as any of their personal possessions.
Anything over £322,000 will then be divided between the spouse/civil partner and the children.
The spouse/civil partner will receive 50% and the children will receive the other 50%, which they can divide between themselves.
If the person who died was married/in a civil partnership and has no children:
Their whole estate/ personal possessions will go to their spouse/civil partner.
If the deceased has an 'unmarried' partner:
Sadly, the rules do not cover modern relationships (e.g. boyfriends, girlfriends and/or cohabiting couples).
They also do not cover religious marriages (e.g. Nikaah, Anand Karaj, Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist or Hindu wedding ceremonies).
It is likely that an 'unmarried' partner may not automatically inherit any property/possessions.
If the person who died wasn't married/ in a civil partnership, but does have children:
The children will automatically inherit the whole estate. However, only biological and adopted children are recognised as inheritors, not step-children.
If the person who dies has no partner and no children:
Then the estate could go to the parents, siblings or other relatives.
Don’t leave it to chance
The importance of making a will cannot be overstated.
At Kingswell Watts, we offer a free 30-minute consultation to assess your matter. We can advise at any stage of the will-making process.