Writing a will Intestacy – dying without a will

Dying without a will

There are complicated intestacy rules to adhere to when someone dies without a will

The division of your estate can become exceptionally complicated and long-winded if you die without making a will. 

Here, we explore what is likely to happen to your money and belongings if you die intestate.

Find out more: Which? Wills - avoid complications and make a will with Which?

What is intestacy?

Dying without a will means that you have died intestate. If this occurs, your estate and property will be divided and distributed under the intestacy rules, according to something known as the Administration of Estates Act. This has recently been updated, with new regulations which came into force on 1 October 2014.

The rules are complex, and can change depending on your familial situation when you die.

If you’re dealing with the estate of someone who has died intestate, need individual advice on wills or any other aspect of your finances, you can speak to a member of our Money Helpline team to get individual guidance.

Dying intestate - where will your estate go?

If you're married, or in a civil partnership AND have children

If you have married, or are in a civil partnership and have children but haven't written a will, your spouse will receive everything in your estate, including all personal possessions, up to the first £250,000.

Anything above that amount is divided in two, with half going to your children at age 18. The remaining half belongs to your spouse.

If you're married, or in a civil partnership, with NO children

If you're married, or in a civil partnership and have no children, your spouse will receive all personal possessions and the proceeds of your estate.

If you’re unmarried person and HAVE children

If you're unmarried person and have children, your children will receive the proceeds of your entire estate at age 18.

If you're unmarried person with NO children

If you die intestate with no spouse or civil partner and no children, your entire estate will go to the following relatives, in this order:

  • Your parents.
  • If your parents are deceased, your estate will go to your brothers and sisters.
  • If you have no siblings, your estate will go to your grandparents.
  • If your grandparents are deceased, your estate will go to uncles and aunts.
  • If you have no living relatives and die intestate, your estate will go to the crown.

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Last updated:

June 2016

Updated by:

Ian Robinson

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