What Happens to Your Estate When You Die Without a Will?

Research shows that over half of adults in the UK do not have a Will.  No one likes to have the difficult conversation about death and what happens to their money when they die.  Many people are put off by the cost or simply leave it on their to do list for the future.  This means that you will die intestate.  Your assets (house, bank and building society accounts, personal belongings, shares, investments etc known as your ‘estate’) that could have been left in a Will is distributed according to the strict intestacy rules.

There are different intestacy rules depending on how much your estate is worth and which members of your family survive you.

If you die intestate leaving a spouse or civil partner and children (including illegitimate and adopted children) and the estate is worth less than £270,000 your spouse or civil partner will receive everything.

If your estate is worth more than £270,000 then your spouse or civil partner will receive all your chattels such as jewellery, photographs, the contents of your house and your car.  Your spouse or civil partner will also receive £270,000.  The rest of the estate is then split into two halves, with your spouse or civil partner receiving a half and your children receiving the other half.

If you do not have a spouse or civil partner but have surviving relatives then the estate will pass in the following order, only moving onto the next category where there are no surviving members in the preceding category:

  • Your children
  • Your parents
  • Your brothers and sisters
  • Your half brothers and sisters
  • Your grandparents
  • Your aunts and uncles
  • Your half-uncles and aunts

If you do not have a spouse or civil partner and no surviving relatives, then your estate passes to the Crown.

If you are married or in a civil partnership but separated and die without a Will in place the intestacy rules above would still be followed even though you have separated. If the estate is worth less than £270,000 then this would mean that your estranged spouse or civil partner would inherit everything.

If you are not married or in a civil partnership but cohabiting and you die without a Will the intestacy rules make no provision at all for your surviving partner. The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 does allow your surviving partner to make a claim on your estate, however this is expensive, time consuming and can divide families.

You can also die intestate if the Will you make is not valid.  As tempting as it is to purchase a cheap DIY Will kit or even write your own Will there are strict rules and procedures that need to be adhered to for a Will to be valid.

You will also die intestate if you marry or enter into a civil partnership after making your Will. You should always revisit your Will upon any change in personal or financial circumstances.

The intestacy rules will rarely reflect your wishes and make no allowance for today’s modern family arrangements. You should not delay in making your Will and Rowberry Morris are here to help give you that peace of mind.

Our experienced lawyers can offer video appointments over FaceTime, WhatsApp, Zoom or Skype to take your instructions.  We will take into consideration all your financial and personal circumstances to ensure that those you chose to benefit from your Will, do so.  Your Will once drafted can be emailed or posted to you and a further appointment will be arranged to check that the Will accords with your wishes and to discuss how to sign your Will to ensure that it is valid.  Once signed we will store your Will free of charge in our fireproof cabinet.

All our highly qualified experts will run through all the necessary documents sensitively and clearly, following the Society of Trusts & Estate Practitioners Code for Will preparation.

For more information please click here to visit the STEP code for Will preparation in England and Wales web page.

To discuss your requirements please contact one of our local offices: