The Rules Of IntestacyThere are strict laws governing the division of an estate when there is no Will, including for married or civil partners with or without children, and for those co-habiting. However, there are exceptions to the rules of intestacy, and in fact the distribution of an estate can be changed if all the individuals due to inherit under the law agree to this – this is known as making a Deed of Variation on Intestacy, and should be completed within two years of the death. In addition, any property, money or business interest held jointly would automatically pass to the surviving joint owner; any money held in trust would pass to the named beneficiaries; and anyone nominated as the beneficiary on a life insurance or pension policy should still receive the money. It is also worth noting that some pension and life insurance pay-outs are made on a discretionary basis, irrespective of whether a nomination has been made. This is another reason as to why it is important to make a Will as the deceased’s Will is very often reviewed when deciding who the payment should be made to. Outside of these exceptions, the rules of intestacy usually determine that an estate be distributed according to the relationship status of the individual and whether they have children or not.
What Happens If You’re Married Or Civil Partners With No Children?If your spouse or civil partner dies without a valid will, and you have no children, you will inherit the estate.
What Happens If You’re Married Or Civil Partners With Children?If your spouse or civil partner dies intestate, and you have children, then you will inherit the first £250,000 of the estate. Anything else will be divided between you and the children, with the children’s share of money going into a trust if they’re under the age of 18.
What Happens If You’re Not Married Or Civil Partners?If you’re co-habiting and neither married nor in a civil partnership, you won’t automatically inherit from your partner’s estate. As a guide, the estate would be distributed in the following order of priority:
- Children or grandchildren
- Siblings or nieces and nephews
- Half siblings or half nieces and nephews
- Aunts and uncles or cousins
- Half aunts and uncles or half cousins