Intestacy

Intestacy is a term used to describe the situation of not making a will. In the case of dying without a legally valid will, all assets and property (estate) are shared out according to the rules of intestacy, whether or not this was the wish of the deceased person. The rules of intestacy dictate that the estate shall pass to the spouse, then certain close family members and then other more distant family members.

The following list describes how the rules of intestacy apply to different scenarios.

Married or civil partners with children

  • Jointly held assets and personal possessions are left to the Survivor
  • First £250,000 to the surviving parent
  • 50% of residue to the Survivor as a life interest  passing to the children on death
  • 50% of residue to children absolutely (legally entitled to assets when 18)

A life interest means that the surviving spouse can have the income or interest from the capital but not the capital. He or she can have the use of it eg a share in your home. Upon death the life interest reverts to your children equally.

Comments

  • The estate can be more complex to administer without a professionally prepared will.
  • If both parents die before your children reach age 18 the Courts will decide who is the guardian of your children.
  • In some situations where large assets (eg the family home) are owned solely by the deceased it is possible that the family home will have to be sold to fulfil the above intestacy requirements.
  • Financial dependants outside of the above categories beneficiaries could  miss out under the rules of intestacy. They can apply to the courts for a reasonable provision to be made in their favour. This will add to the complexity.

Married or CP without children.

  • Jointly held assets and personal possessions to the survivor
  • First £450,000 to the survivor
  • 50% of the remainder to the survivor
  • 50% of the remainder to the deceased’s parents if none siblings, if none -descendants  if none  all will pass to the surviving spouse/CP.

Comments

  • The estate can be more complex to administer without a professionally prepared will.
  • Would you wish your spouse or Civil Partner to share some of your estate with other members of your family?
  • Financial dependants outside of the above categories beneficiaries could  miss out under the rules of intestacy. They can apply to the courts for a reasonable provision to be made in their favour. This  will add to the complexity.

Single with children All will be equally divided between your children

Single without children  the pecking order will be as follows: Parents, siblings, nephew and nieces, siblings of the half blood or descendants, your grandparents, uncles and aunts, cousins or their descendants. If there are no descendants of your parents or your grandparents your estate will pass to the Crown.

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