What happens if an individual dies without leaving a will?

Dying intestate

If someone dies without leaving a will they will have been said to have died intestate. If you estate is deemed to have been worth over £25,000 then the assets of your estate will be distributed according to the intestate rules of England and Wales.

Who will become the beneficiary of the estate depends upon the circumstances and the situation of the person who has died.

Rules of Intestate

Single, Divorced or Widowed

  • For those people who are single, divorced or widowed then everything will be left firstly to their children.

  • If they do not have any children then the estate will be left to their parents or to their grandchildren if their children are deceased

  • If they do not have any parents then the estate will be left to their siblings or their siblings children if their siblings are to deceased

  • If they do not have siblings then the estate will be left to their grandparents

  • If they do not have any living grandparents then the estate will be left to any one of their uncles and aunts or their children if they are deceased 

  • If they do not have an uncle or aunt for which the estate can pass to then the estate will pass to the Government

Unmarried Couples

In the case of unmarried couples if one dies without leaving a will then their partner will get nothing. The estate will be treated as if they were a single person and distributed according to the above rules.

Married with no Children

If someone who is married but has no children dies without leaving a will then the first £200,000 of the estate and all the goods, possessions and property and half of the rest of the remaining estate will pass to the surviving spouse.

The rest of the estate will be distributed in accordance with the above rules for single people.

If there are no remaining blood relatives then the surviving spouse will inherit the entire estate.

Married with Children

If someone who is married and has children dies without leaving a will then the first £125,000 of the estate and all the goods, possessions and property and the interest only on half of the rest of the estate will pass to the surviving spouse. This half of the estate will then pass to the children upon the death of the surviving spouse.

The other half with immediately be split equally amongst the children. If they are not yet 18 years of age then it will be held in trust until they reach that age.

Note: These figures are correct as of Feb 2010