In Brief: Dying Intestate

(January 2020) A person is known to die ‘intestate’ when they die without leaving a Will (or a valid Will).  In such circumstances,the Intestacy Rules come into effect.  These rules determine who is to benefit from the deceased’s estate and how the estate is to be distributed.

If the deceased was married or in a civil partnership at the date of death but had no children, everything would pass to their spouse.  If, however, the deceased had a spouse and children, the current Intestacy Rules state that:

  1. The spouse would receive:
  2. all joint assets by way of survivorship;
  3. the deceased’s personal chattels (as defined by law);
  4. the first £250,000 (plus interest) of the assets in the deceased’s sole name.  This is known as the statutory legacy and is increasing to £270,000 for deaths after 6th February 2020 under the Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014 which is reviewed every five years; and
  5. half of the balance of the remaining assets.
  • The other half of the assets would be divided equally between the surviving children and would be held on statutory trust for any children under the age of 18.

If there was no surviving spouse or children, the estate would follow the Intestacy Rules which detail other relatives that are entitled to benefit as set out by law.  If the deceased left no family, the estate would pass to the Crown.

Making a Will is essential if you want your wishes to be honoured when you die.  We therefore advise everyone to make a Will and review it periodically. If you would like to discuss putting in place a Will please contact our Private Client team on 020 8939 4000.

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