Intestacy Rules


We can help you if a relative has passed away without leaving a will. This is also known as ‘dying intestate’ and will mean that their estate will be shared out according to the rules of intestacy. We can explain and assist throughout this process.

Understanding Intestacy Rules and Who Can Inherit 

Those who can inherit under intestacy rules are:

  • Married and civil partners – as long as they are married or in a civil partnership with the deceased at the time of death
  • Informally separated partners
  • Children of the intestate person – the whole estate if there is no married or civil partner, or, a share of the estate if it is valued at over £250,000 and there is a surviving spouse or civil partner
  • Children whose parents are not married or haven’t registered a civil partnership
  • Parents, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews of the intestate person, but only in certain circumstances

Those who cannot inherit under the intestacy rules are:

  • Divorced or dissolved civil partners
  • Cohabiting partners
  • Children of the intestate person if the latter had a married or civil partner – unless the estate is worth over £250,000, in which case they will receive a share
  • Close friends
  • Carers

It can be a difficult time after someone close to you has died, but our wills and probate solicitors can help you to understand all of the necessary steps that you will need to take and assist you throughout.

Frequently Asked Questions

When someone dies without a Will they are called an intestate person, and their estate will be subject to the rules of intestacy.

These are specific rules which dictate how the distribution of the estate should occur. There will be an Administrator appointed to carry out the valuation and distribution of the estate, who could be the next of kin or closest living relative.

If there is no Will, what happens to the property is decided using the intestacy rules. This means that the next of kin or closest living relative to the person who died is appointed to administrate their estate, which includes what happens with the property.

Who gets the property depends on the specific family situation, but the intestacy rules are strict when it comes to who inherits what.

If there is no Will left when someone dies, who inherits is decided by the rules of intestacy. These are set rules that state the certain circumstances that dictate who in the person's family inherits what.

For example, if a married person with no children dies intestate, their spouse receives all of the estate. If there are children in the equation, the spouse will receive all personal property and belongings, the first £250,000 of the estate and half of what remains.

If both of your parents die without a Will or Wills, the children will inherit their whole estate. If you have siblings, the estate will be split equally between you all.

If just one of your parents dies without a Will, your parents were still married or in a civil partnership at the time of death, and their estate is worth £250,000 or less your surviving parent will inherit the whole estate. If the estate is worth any more than this, your surviving parent will inherit the first £250,000 and the remaining value will be give to you or split among you and your siblings.

Yes, cousins can inherit under the rules of intestacy, but only in a very specific situation. If a person is unmarried, with no:

  • Children,
  • Parents,
  • Siblings,
  • Nieces or nephews,
  • Half siblings,
  • Grandparents, and
  • Aunts or Uncles,

would cousins be eligible to inherit anything from the person's estate.

The person who operates in the same way as an Executor if the owner of an estate dies without a will is called the Administrator.

There can only be one Administrator, and they are usually the deceased person's next of kin or closest living relative.

To claim inheritance without a will you must be related to the person who has passed away. The rules of intestacy will apply, which means that the deceased person's next of kin or closest living relative will be appointed to Administer their estate.

The Administrator will then be responsible for distributing any inheritance to the relevant people, such as spouses, civil partners and children.

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