Written by Laura Edwards, Associate Solicitor
Approximately 54% of adults in the UK have not made a Will. If you have not made a Will, you do not have control about where your assets will go when you die. Instead, your estate will be administered in accordance with the laws of intestacy.
What are the intestacy laws?
The intestacy laws are set out in Section 46 Administration of Estates Act 1925. From 6 February 2020, these are as follows:
If the deceased has a spouse/civil partner and no children
The spouse/civil partner inherits everything.
If the deceased has a spouse/civil partner and children
The spouse/civil partner is entitled to all personal possessions and a legacy of £270,000 (free of inheritance tax and costs). They are also entitled to half of the remaining residuary estate. The other half is held on statutory trust for the deceased’s children.
The deceased dies leaving no spouse/civil partner
The estate is distributed to children/grandchildren/great-grandchildren.
Where there are none, the estate passes to parents equally.
If the parents have died, this passes to brothers and sisters. If they have died, the estate passes to their children. If there are no whole-blood brothers and sisters, this passes to half-blood brothers and sisters and their children.
If there are no siblings, the estate passes to grandparents. Where they have died, this passes to uncles and aunts. If they have died, this passes to their children. Where there are no whole-blood uncles and aunts, this passes to half-blood uncles and aunts and their children.
If there is no family, the estate passes to the Crown.
How do I know who the family are?
I have acted on a lot of instate estates. These are often complicated where there is no close family.
In some cases, the people entitled to the estate may not even know the deceased. In cases such as these, there are often a lot of potential beneficiaries. It is always recommended to instruct a professional agency to produce a family tree. This is important to ensure that no beneficiaries are missed. It is also recommended to consider an insurance policy to guard against any missing beneficiaries.
Who administers the estate?
When a person dies with a Will, the estate is administered by the Executors. The authority to start administering the estate comes from the Will.
Where a person died intestate, a personal representative must apply to the Probate Registry for Letters of Administration. This is the legal document that gives the authority to administer the estate. Without this, there is no authority to start collecting in assets or settling debts. The personal representative is often one of the people entitled to benefit from the estate under the intestacy rules. It is possible to have more than one.
Administering an intestate estate is often more complicated. Sometimes, it is not clear who has the authority to act. If you require professional advice, please contact Laura Edwards in Parkstone on 01202 715815.