Die without a will and you leave everything to chance. The law decides who gets what, not you. Despite this, it’s thought that well over half of UK adults don’t have a valid up to date will.
Here, Louise Harris explains what happens if you die without having made a will (‘intestate’).
There are all sorts of misconceptions about what happens if you die without a will. As practitioners, we hear it all. ‘Its OK, my wife will get everything’. WRONG! ‘I don’t need a will, the kids know what I want to happen and they will sort it out’. WRONG, they wont necessarily have any authority to do so.
What will happen if you die intestate (without a will), depends on your circumstances. Here’s an overview of what the law states.
Married with children
If you’re married with children, then a surviving husband or wife would receive:-
Any balance over that is held:-
Married with no children
If there are parents, whole blood siblings, nephew or nieces, then the surviving spouse gets all joint assets, plus personal possessions, and cash up to £450,000. Any balance over that goes 50% to the spouse outright, and 50% to the parents (failing them siblings or their children).
Married with no children, no parents, no whole blood siblings, no nephew or nieces
In these circumstances, the surviving spouse takes whole estate.
Single person with children
If you die intestate leaving children, but you are un-married, then your children would take your entire estate equally between them (if there is more than one).
Single person with no children
Here there is an order of priority. Those entitled will take everything. So for example, if there are parents, they take everything, and nobody ‘below’ them in the order of priority has any entitlement. The order is:-
If none of the above groups of relatives have survived then, and only then, the estate will pass to the Crown, the Duchy of Lancaster, or to the Duke of Cornwall (dependant upon where you live).
If you have any queries about dying without a will, please contact Louise on 01737 233555, or email her at lh@Qlaw.co.uk