If a person dies without leaving a Will they are deemed to have died Intestate and the Intestacy Rules apply (as outlined in the Administration of Estates Act 1925). Under the Intestacy Rules, as recently amended by the Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014, the following people will inherit a person’s estate in the following order (and be entitled to apply to be Administrator – which is the intestate version of an Executor):
1. Spouse* and no children - all to the Spouse regardless of the value of the estate
2. Spouse and children - the Spouse receives the first £250,000, the personal possessions and half of whatever the remainder of the estate is over £250,000 absolutely; the remaining half over £250,000 passes to the children** in equal shares
3. No Spouse but with children - all to the children in equal shares (or their issue if a child has pre-deceased).
4. No Spouse or children - the estate is gifted to the following relatives in the following order (i.e. it will only go to a relative in a category below if the category above does not exist):-
b. Siblings or their issue
c. Half-Sibling or their issue
e. Uncles or Aunts or their issue
f. Half-Uncles or Aunts or their issue
5. If none of the above - the Estate passes to the Crown (the government!)
* also includes Civil Partners
** also includes their children (issue) in equal shares if the child pre-deceases the deceased (so on down the generations)
The above represents the latest position following a lengthy review of current inheritance laws so that a further change in the Intestacy Rules is not expected for many years. You can still see that there are a number of people who do not benefit from a deceased person’s estate under the Intestacy Rules (such as step-children and partners) and this is where the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act 1975 can step in to save the day. You may still be eligible to bring a claim under The 1975 Inheritance Act.