No Surviving Spouse or Partner
In this case, if the estate is valued over a certain amount, the children will inherit everything and if there is more than one child, it is divided amongst them equally.
Surviving Partner or Spouse
If the deceased’s estate is worth over £250,000, their children will inherit one half of the value of the inheritance, providing they are all the late parent’s biological children, they will receive equal shares. This includes children from previous relationships, all legally adopted children and step-children, as well as children of common law couples. If the children are under 18 years old, their inheritance is held in trust for them until their 18th birthday.
In the case of grandchildren, they can inherit from an intestate grandparent, only if their parent (the son or daughter of the intestate deceased) dies before that grandparent and they would be allocated the share their parent would have been entitled to receive.
Other Relatives and the Rules of Intestacy
Depending on the size of the estate, whether there is a surviving spouse or civil partner, children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren, other close relatives may have a right to inherit – this includes parents of the deceased, siblings, nephews and nieces. However, this would be the case only after the estate has been shared between the spouse/partner and the deceased’s direct descendants.
Deed of Family Arrangement and the Rules of Intestacy
If all the key people who are due to inherit under the Rules of Intestacy are in agreement, the estate’s shares can be rearranged. This might provide something for those who cannot or did not receive an inheritance under the intestacy rules – however this has to be done within two years of the intestate’s death.
No Known Surviving Relatives and the Rules of Intestacy
If it appears that there is no one to inherit, the estate passes to the Crown. These unclaimed estates are known as ‘bona vacantia’, literally meaning vacant goods, and the Treasury is then responsible for their management.
Despite the best intentions of the Rules of Intestacy to be as equitable as possible, they can still cause unintended anguish and even financial hardship for families. If this is the case, then a claim for adequate provision can be made through the courts under the Inheritance Act.
However, the easiest way to avoid these added complications to an already fraught and distressing situation is to make a valid will, where you can settle your estate your way.