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Who can inherit if there is no will?

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Posted by Rachel Collett on 02 October 2014

Rachel Collett - Probate and Estate Administration
Rachel Collett Chartered Legal Executive

The rules of intestacy govern what happens to your estate if you die without leaving a valid will.

The table below shows the key changes to the rules of intestacy and the attached flow chart goes into more detail:

Deceased dies leaving: Rules prior to 1 October 2014 Rules from 1 October 2014 to 5 February 2020 Rules from 6 February 2020

A spouse / civil partner but no children

(parents and / or siblings survive)

Spouse / civil partner receives:

  • The first £450,000
  • Personal chattels
  • One half of the remainder of the estate
Parents receive the remaining half of the estate (or siblings if no surviving parents)

Spouse / civil partner receives whole estate. 

Parents / siblings do not receive anything

Spouse / civil partner receives whole estate. 

Parents / siblings do not receive anything

A spouse / civil partner and children

Spouse / civil partner receives:

  • The first £250,000
  • Personal chattels
  • A life interest in half of the remainder of the estate
Children receive the remaining half of the estate at 18.

Spouse receives:

  • The first £250,000
  • Personal chattels
  • Half of the estate outright
Children receive the remaining half of the estate at 18.

Spouse receives:

  • The first £270,000
  • Personal chattels
  • Half of the estate outright

Children receive the remaining half of the estate at 18.

The new rules are easier to understand and they are more in line with the public’s expectations of how an estate is divided when someone dies without leaving a will.  However it is still important to make a will because:-

  • The intestacy rules may not be the most tax efficient manner for your estate to be administered.
  • The intestacy rules may not be suitable for your family situation.
  • If you have a partner but are not married, under the intestacy rules they do not have a right to inherit anything.  

Intestacy Flowchart

About the author

Rachel Collett

Chartered Legal Executive

Rachel has worked in the legal profession since 2003. She has over 12 years experience as a probate lawyer and before that she was a conveyancer. She qualified as a Chartered Legal Executive in 2011.

Rachel Collett

Rachel has worked in the legal profession since 2003. She has over 12 years experience as a probate lawyer and before that she was a conveyancer. She qualified as a Chartered Legal Executive in 2011.

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