What Happens When a Person Dies Intestate?

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If a person dies intestate in the UK, it means they passed away without making a valid will. In such cases, their estate will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy, which are outlined in our legal system.

Recent Changes to Intestate Law

On the 5 July 2023, the government passed The Administration of Estates Act 1925 (Fixed Net Sum) Order 2023. If you die without a will (known as dying intestate), the law states how your estate will be divided amongst your surviving family.

Currently if you die leaving a spouse/civil partner and children, your spouse/civil partner receives a legacy of £270,000 plus the personal chattels. The remaining estate is divided so the spouse/civil partner receives 50% and the children share 50% (in equal shares if there is more than one child).

This order increases the legacy to the spouse/civil partner to £322,000 for all deaths on or after 26 July 2023.

Key Considerations When a Person Dies Intestate

Here are the key points regarding what happens when someone dies intestate in the UK:

The estate of the deceased will be administered by an administrator instead of an executor. The administrator is usually a close relative or a professional appointed by the court. The distribution of the estate follows a specific order of entitlement defined by law. The rules of intestacy prioritize spouses, civil partners, and blood relatives.

If the deceased had a surviving spouse or civil partner but no children, the entire estate typically goes to the spouse or civil partner.

If the deceased had a surviving spouse or civil partner and children, the spouse or civil partner may now inherit the first £322,000 of the estate (from 26 July 2023), all personal possessions, and half of the remaining estate. The other half is divided equally among the children.

If there is no surviving spouse or civil partner, the estate passes to the children. If there are no children, it goes to other blood relatives following a specific order defined by law. In the absence of any surviving relatives, the estate may go to the Crown or government.

If the deceased had minor children, the rules of intestacy do not cover guardianship. It is crucial for parents to appoint a guardian for their children in a will. If there is no appointed guardian, the court will decide who will take care of the children.

Intestacy laws do not recognise unmarried partners, stepchildren, or friends as beneficiaries. Without a valid will, they will not automatically inherit anything from the estate. Therefore, it is particularly important for unmarried couples and those in non-traditional relationships to make wills to ensure their partners are provided for.

It is worth noting that intestacy laws can be complex, and the specific distribution of the estate may depend on various factors, including the value of the estate and the specific family circumstances. To ensure your estate is distributed according to your wishes, it is strongly advised to create a valid will with the assistance of a legal professional, like the team at Swansea Legal Solutions.

To find out more visit our website here or call a member of our team on 01792 420844.

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