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.

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.

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.

Which? interactive guide to intestacy - check your situation

The intestacy limits changed recently. Use our interactive guide to see how the new rules would affect your estate if you died without making a valid will.

 

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Questions

Q1. Are you married or in a civil partnership?
Yes - go to Q3. No - go to Q2.
Q2. Is your estate worth more than £250,000?
Yes - go to Q4. No - go to A1.
Q3. Do you have children?
Yes - go to A2. No - go to Q5.
Q4. Do you have children?
Yes - go to A3. No - go to Q6.
Q5. Do you have any parents?
Yes - go to A4. No - go to Q7.
Q6. Do you have parents?
Yes - go to A5. No - go to Q8.
Q7. Do you have any brothers or sisters?
Yes - go to A6. No - go to Q9.
Q8. Do you have any brothers or sisters?
Yes - go to A7. No - go to A9.
Q9. Do you have any grandparents?
Yes - go to A8. No - go to Q10.
Q10. Do you have aunts, uncles or cousins? Yes - go to A10. No - go to A11.

Answers

A1. Spouse/civil partner (CP) gets everything
A2. Shared equally between children
A3. Spouse/CP gets personal possessions and first £250,000 plus life interest in half the remainder. Children get the other half
A4. Shared equally between parents
A5. Spouse/CP gets personal possessions and first £450,000 plus half the balance. Remainder shared between parents
A6. Shared equally between them
A7. Spouse/CP gets personal possessions and first £450,000 plus half the balance. Remainder shared between siblings
A8. Shared equally between them
A9. Everything goes to your spouse/CP
A10. Shared equally between them
A11. Everything goes to the Crown

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 under a 'lifetime interest'. This means that the capital cannot be spent but your spouse has a right to a income from it, perhaps through interest on a savings account. On the death of your spouse, this remaining half goes to your children.

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 up to £450,000.

Anything remaining from the estate is divided into two - half goes to your spouse and half goes to your parents. If your parents are deceased, this will transfer to siblings or the children of your sibling.

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

If you're married with no relatives and no children, your entire estate will go to your spouse.

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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