Answers to frequently asked questions about the rules of intestacy
The rules of intestacy can result in unfair outcomes and leave people suffering financial hardship following the death of a loved one. If you find yourself in this position then please call our free legal helpline. We will let you know what your options are and whether no win, no fee funding is available. Call 0333 888 0407 or send us an email.
What are the rules of intestacy?
Intestacy is the legal term used when an individual dies without having made a Will. The rules of intestacy designate who is entitled to inherit the estate in the absence of a Will.
My late husband did not make a Will. He has children with his ex-girlfriend and we have children of our own. Who will inherit his estate?
As his wife you will be entitled to your husband’s personal effects. Under the rules of intestacy you will also receive the “Statutory Legacy” of up to £322,000 (as from 26 July 2023). The remainder of his estate will be divided equally, with you receiving 50% and the children receiving the other 50%.
We are not married but have lived together for ten years and have young children. Do we need Wills?
The rules of intestacy do not provide for cohabiting partners. If your partner dies before you then his estate will go to his next of kin, which could cause you financial hardship. If you both make Wills then you can ensure that the survivor receives the financial provision they will need.
The rules of intestacy do not make adequate financial provision for me. Is there anything I can do?
If you are a spouse, a cohabiter, a child or someone who was supported by the deceased then you may be able to make a claim against their estate under the Inheritance Act. You should not delay in making an Inheritance Act claim as you only have six months from the Grant to do so.
My wife has died and she did not make a Will. We owned our house as joint tenants. Who will inherit the house?
You will inherit the house as it will pass directly to you under the rules of survivorship. This is because property owned as ‘joint tenants’ does not form part of the deceased’s estate, but simply passes to the survivor when one joint owner dies. However, if the property was jointly owned as ‘tenants in common’ then the legal situation is totally different. It is therefore very important that you establish what the terms of the joint ownership are and to take expert legal advice on the situation.
Why is making a Will so important?
A Will provides certainty and clarity about who is to inherit your estate when you pass away. In addition a Will can also be used to reduce the Inheritance Tax (IHT) liability payable on your death. This means more of your assets go to your loved ones and less to the government. A Will can also reduce the likelihood of an expensive inheritance dispute arising.
Can I get free legal guidance?
We operate a free legal helpline and shall be happy to assess your case free of charge if you have been left facing financial hardship following the death of a loved one. We are often able to work on a No Win, No Fee basis, so there is no need to allow worries about legal costs put you off seeking justice. Simply phone us on 0333 888 0407 or send an email to [email protected]