June 29, 2023

What happens if YOU die without a will?

This post was written by: Laaibah Bhatti

Losing a loved one is already a challenging experience, and dealing with the legalities that follow can add additional stress to an already difficult time.

One crucial aspect that individuals often overlook is the importance of having a will.

Unfortunately, many people pass away without having a will in place, leaving their estate subject to the rules of intestacy.

This is called dying intestate.

The deceased’s living relatives are placed into an order of priority. This dictates who inherits the money, property, and assets in the estate, and in what proportion.

For example, where there is a spouse or civil partner and no children, that spouse or civil partner will inherit everything.

If there is both a surviving spouse and children then the surviving spouse receives a statutory legacy of £270,000, anything else above this is split 50% to the spouse and 50% to the children and if more than one in equal shares. Any assets that are owned jointly pass automatically to the surviving joint owner.

In the event of there being no spouse or children or grandchildren, the estate passes to the deceased’s parents. Should there be no parents alive then the estate will pass to the siblings of the deceased or their nieces and nephews should their siblings have also sadly predeceased.

Other relatives may have a right to inherit if the person who died intestate had no surviving spouse or civil partner, children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, parents, siblings or nieces or nephews. This would be grandparents, uncles and aunts or cousins in priority order.

In the event that someone dies without any living relatives left to inherit their estate, it goes to The Crown. That means the estate is then dealt with by The Treasury Solicitor.

There are many potential complications and unintended consequences which could arise due to not having a will in place.

This includes:

  • Delays and Expenses:

The absence of a will can result in delays as the court appoints an administrator to oversee the distribution process. This may lead to increased costs, including legal fees, and prolonged probate proceedings.

  • Unintended Beneficiaries:

The estate passing under the rules of intestacy may mean your estate being distributed to relatives you may not have intended to inherit. Close friends, charitable organizations, or individuals outside the family may miss out on receiving any part of your estate.

  •  Family Disputes:

Intestate succession can sometimes create disagreements among family members, especially when the distribution of assets does not align with their expectations. This can strain relationships and lead to costly legal battles.

Make a will today!

Writing a Will shows that you have considered what you want happening when the time comes. A Will empowers your family and loved ones to act swiftly with your own wishes. Without a Will, any wishes you have verbally expressed during your lifetime may not be upheld, as your estate must be distributed according to the rules of intestacy.

If you would like to make a Will, contact our Wills and Probate Solicitor Lara Thomas at lthomas@astonbond.co.uk or call 01753 486777.