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What happens if there is no Will?

If someone dies intestate their property will be divided according to the intestacy rules, dependant on which relatives survives them.

  • If your husband or wife passes away and you have children you will be entitled to the personal possessions and the first £250,000 of the estate, plus a life interest in half of the rest of the estate, i.e. you will be entitled to the interest earned for your lifetime. The remainder goes to any surviving children.
  • If your husband or wife passes away and you do not have any children the first £450,000 goes to you and the remainder is shared between you and other surviving relatives.

If the Intestate leaves no surviving spouse, the estate is distributed as follows:

  1. To issue (on the statutory trusts), being children, but if any child dies before the intestate leaving children/grandchildren etc then to them, but if none then to
  2. Parents absolutely (and equally if both are alive), but if none, then to
  3. Brothers and sisters of the whole blood (i.e. the children of the same parents as the deceased) or their issue, on the statutory trusts, but if none then to
  4. Brothers and sisters of half blood, (i.e. those who share one parent with the deceased) or their issue on the statutory trusts, but if none then to
  5. Grandparents absolutely (and equally if both are alive), but if none, then to
  6. Uncles and aunts of the whole blood (i.e. brothers and sisters of the whole blood of the parents of the deceased) or their issue, on the statutory trusts, but if none then to
  7. Uncles and aunts of the half blood (i.e. those with one parent in common with the parents of the deceased) or their issue, on the statutory trusts, but if none then to
  8. The Crown, Duchy of Lancaster or the Duke of Cornwall as “bona vacantia”


Section 46(1) (vi) of the Administration of Estates Act 1925 gives the Crown discretion to make provisions for dependents of the Intestate whether they are related to the deceased or not. Similarly the Crown may provide for “other persons for whom the Intestate might reasonably have been expected to make provision”.

If the deceased died resident within the Duchy of Lancashire or in Cornwall, the Duchy or the Duke of Cornwall respectively take the assets as bona vacantia (subject to the same conditions).

It should be noted that each category must be considered in the order listed above and only if there is no one in a particular category is it necessary to consider the next category. A blood relationship is vital under the intestacy rules; the spouse of a person within one of these categories has no right to share in the estate.

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