Sunday, 2 October 2011

What are the Intestacy Rules?

Article by
Sharon Brown
If someone dies without leaving a valid Will, they die ‘intestate’. The law then determines who their estate passes to.  This is a simple guide only, and we would urge you to contact us if you require advice relevant to your own circumstances. Please note that the figures quoted are correct as at June 2011.

Deceased person was married/in a registered civil partnership and had children:
> Spouse/civil partner gets first £250,000 and any personal possessions;
> Anything remaining is divided into two parts:
   – Half to the children when they turn 18 or when they get married (whichever event comes first);
   – Half is held in trust during the spouse/civil partner’s lifetime – they get the income only. On their death,   this half also goes to the children.

If a child predeceases, his or her own children will take the share equally between them.

Deceased person was married/in a registered civil partnership but did not have children:
If there are parents, brothers or sisters of the whole blood, nephews or nieces:
> Spouse/civil partner gets first £450,000 and any personal possessions ;
> Anything remaining is divided into two parts:
   – Half goes to spouse/civil partner;
   – Half to parents. If no surviving parents, this share goes to brothers or sisters or their children.

Deceased person married/in a registered civil partnership with no surviving parents, brothers or sisters, or nieces and nephews:
Spouse/partner takes whole estate.

Deceased unmarried with children:
Estate divided equally between the children when they reach 18, or when they get married (whichever event comes first).

If a child predeceases, his or her own children will take the share equally between them.

Deceased unmarried but did not have children:
> Estate goes to parents;
> If none, then to siblings of the whole blood or their surviving children;
> If none, then to siblings of the half blood or their surviving children;
> If none, then to grandparents;
> If none, then to uncles and aunts of the whole blood or their children;
> If none, then to uncles and aunts of the half blood or their children;
> If there are no parents, siblings (whole or half blood), children of siblings, grandparents, uncles and aunts (whole or half blood), or children of aunts and uncles the estate will pass to the Crown or to the Duchy of Lancaster or the Duke of Cornwall.

As you can see, the intestacy rules are far from simple. For clarification, the following people have no right to inherit when someone dies without making a Will:
> Unmarried couples;
> Lesbian or gay partners not in a registered civil partnership;
> Relations by marriage;
> Close friends;
> Neighbours;
> Carers.

If you fall into this list of people and have recently lost a loved one, it is possible to make a claim on their estate. If this is the case we would urge you to contact one of our specialist advisors as soon as possible.

For more detailed advice on any of the issues please call 01992 422128 and ask for a member of the private client team or email Sharon@gardenhousesolicitors.co.uk


The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

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