What are the intestacy rules?

21 January, 2021

The intestacy rules determine how a person’s estate will be left if they die without leaving a valid Will. How an estate will pass depends on who survives the deceased.

Where there is a surviving spouse but no children

If a spouse survives the deceased by 28 days, the entire estate will pass to them.

Where there is a surviving spouse and children

Deaths between 1 October 2014 and 6 February 2020

The surviving spouse will receive a fixed sum of £250,000 as well as all of the deceased’s ‘personal chattels’ (moveable property excluding money). If the estate is larger than £250,000, the spouse will also have a life interest in 50% of the residuary estate.

The remaining 50% will be divided between the deceased’s children absolutely. This includes adopted children but does not include step-children. If a child does not survive the deceased, their ‘share’ will be divided equally between any children they have.

Deaths after 6 February 2020

The estate will pass as above, however, the fixed sum which the spouse will receive has now increased to £270,000.

Where there is no spouse but there are children

The residuary estate will be divided equally between the deceased’s children, again, with their children inheriting in their place if they do not survive the deceased.

Where there is no spouse and no children

In this situation, the intestacy rules provide that the estate will pass to the surviving relatives of the deceased in the following order:

  • Parents;
  • full siblings (or their children in their place);
  • half-siblings (or their children in their place);
  • grandparents;
  • full aunts or uncles (or their children in their place); and
  • half aunts or uncles (or their children in their place).

Where there are no surviving relatives, the estate will pass to the crown.

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