If part or the whole of the estate is not disposed of by a Will then an intestacy arises. Total intestacy results if there is no Will at all or an invalid Will. Partial intestacy arises when not all of the estate is disposed of by the Will. Intestacy effectively cuts out most non-family unless an individual is able to establish the right to make a claim against the estate under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependants) Act. The intestacy rules set out a regime for distribution of assets and determine who has an entitlement to claim dependent upon the size of the estate and the degree of family relationship. An individual who wishes to choose how their estate is to be distributed after death must leave a valid Will. Where no qualifying relatives or dependants exist the intestacy rules provide for the estate of the deceased to pass to the Crown.
Currently where an individual dies without leaving a valid Will the law provides that his or her estate must be distributed in the following way :-
1. Where the deceased leaves a surviving spouse but no issue (children or their descendants), no parents or brothers or sisters of the whole blood or their issue;
The spouse takes the whole estate absolutely.
2. Where the deceased leaves both a spouse and issue:
(i) the spouse takes:-
(a) the personal chattels (moveable property such as cars not used for business purposes, furniture, jewellery etc but not money) absolutely;
(b) a statutory legacy of £250,000.00 absolutely;
(c) a life interest in half the residue (income from this half residue not capital).
(ii) the remainder of the Estate (i.e. half the residue immediately plus the remaining half of residue on the death of the spouse) goes to the “issue” on “the statutory trusts”. Property held on such statutory trust for issue is divided in equal shares among such of the children of the deceased who are living at the date of death and who either attain the age of 18 or marry under that age.
3. Where the deceased leaves a spouse and no issue but leaves a parent, or brother or sister of the whole blood or their issue:
(i) the spouse takes:
(a) the personal chattels absolutely;
(b) a statutory legacy of £450,000.00 absolutely;
(c) half the residue absolutely;
(ii) the other half of the residue goes to the parent(s) or, if none have survived, to the brothers or sisters of the whole blood on the statutory trusts.
4. Where the deceased leaves no surviving spouse:
One of the following takes in this order :
(i) issue on the statutory trusts;
(ii) parents (equally if more than one);
(iii) brothers and sisters of the whole blood on the statutory trust;
(iv) brothers and sisters of the half blood on the statutory trust;
(v) grandparents (equally if more than one);
(vi) uncles and aunts of the whole blood on the statutory trust;
(vii) uncles and aunts of the half blood on the statutory trust;
(viii) the Crown as bona vacantia
Dealing with an intestacy can be a challenging and complex task. We provide knowledgeable advice and a wealth of experience. Please contact us for further details.