Intestacy is the process by which a deceased’s estate is distributed after their death, subject to there not being a legal Will in place that covers the estate’s assets, and subject to there being assets left to distribute after due taxes/outstanding debts are paid.
UK law of Intestacy will try to share the estate within family: At first, if they are alive, assets will go to the husband or wife or civil partner, then in order by process below*
List of beneficiaries in order of legal priority:
Husband or wife or civil partner**
Children, grandchildren then direct descendants***
Brothers and sisters
Half-brothers and half-sisters
Aunts and uncles
Half-aunts and half-uncles
In any way: ‘Letters of administration’ would need to be granted by the court to somebody to manage the estate. More on applying for letters of administration can be found here:
Letters of administration may not be needed if the deceased’s estate does not include land, property or shares.
Mrs. Smith dies with two houses, a ship, and £500,000.
If she has not made a Will at all, or if her Will only covers her two houses and the ship, the whole, or remainder, will pass by Intestacy, which will determine how the estate, or bits that aren’t covered in the Will, is shared.
By Intestacy, as there is no Will, and the two houses, ship and money are all solely in Mrs. Smith’s name, i.e. both Mr. and Mrs. Smith’s names are not on the legal documents, Mr. Smith will automatically get everything, unless they have children. If Mr. and Mrs. Smith have living children*** all of the assets (including property), up to a value of £250,000, and all of Mrs. Smith’s personal possessions, will go to Mr. Smith; Mr. Smith is also entitled to half of everything that is left after that. The remainder would be shared equally among their children and their descendants.
If Mrs. Smith had no Will, husband, civil partner or children when she died her estate would go to the next in line, as illustrated in the list of beneficiaries above.
For some more information on Intestacy:
**Up to certain values. See more details here:
*** See more details on children here: https://www.gov.uk/inherits-someone-dies-without-will/y/england-and-wales/no