It is an unfortunate fact of life or death, that someone dies without making a valid will, which means they are intestate and in these cases the Rules of Intestacy dictate how the deceased’s estate will be divided.
The main beneficiaries of the Rules of Intestacy are spouses or civil partners of the deceased and if their estate is valued at under £250, 000, they will receive the entire amount.
If the deceased’s estate is valued at over £250,000 the spouse or legal partner at the time of the person’s death inherits:
All the deceased’s property and their belongings
The first £250, 000
Half of the remaining estate
If the deceased has children, the balance remaining is divided equally amongst them.
Husbands and wives who have separated informally at the time of death are deemed technically ‘married’ and they may also inherit; but not divorced ex-partners or those who have had their civil partnerships dissolved.
Common law husbands and wives have no inheritance rights under the Rules of Intestacy, neither do same-sex partners, who are not in a civil partnership.
Similarly, there are other groups of people who have no rights to inherit either, such as relations by marriage (eg. in-laws, non-legally adopted step-children), close friends and carers
If the deceased is married or in a legal partnership and has no children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren, but they are survived by their parents, the spouse/partner will still inherit everything.