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We can help you with what to do if a loved one dies intestate.
When someone dies without leaving a Will, this is known as dying Intestate.
As there is no Will, the deceased person has not nominated anyone to act as Executors and deal with the assets in the estate. Who in this situation can administer the estate?
The rules of Intestacy state who is entitled to receive the assets of the deceased person. They also confirm that whoever is entitled to those assets (the Beneficiaries) are also entitled to administer the Estate. These people will become known as Administrators.
Who the Beneficiaries are will depend on what relatives the deceased person left behind and how valuable their assets were when they died.
When identifying who the Administrators and Beneficiaries are, great care and diligence is required to avoid mistakes being made. To ensure that the right people get their inheritance and deal with the estate you should consult a professional who has experience in advising on the Intestacy rules, someone such as a Solicitor.
The Solicitor can establish what assets are held by the deceased, their value and then with information such as a family tree, who is entitled to act as Administrator and then receive the assets as Beneficiary.
Complex estates can take months and sometimes years to administer and if the location of certain Beneficiaries is not known, this can further delay the final distribution of the estate. It is advisable to show your Solicitor all the information and documentation you have about the deceased person's family, property, belongings and financial affairs.
The Intestacy rules offer a “fallback” position so that if you die without a Will your estate will be dealt with in a certain prescribed manner. The rules can however be complicated and may cause upset for those you leave behind. They can also trigger an avoidable tax liability. When someone has assets over £5000, or they have children under 18 or a partner to whom they are not married or have not formed a Civil Partnership with, we strongly recommend making a Will to ensure it is your wishes, rather than the Intestacy rules which determine who gets what.
Since 1st February 2009 married couples and civil partners whose spouse or civil partner dies without leaving a will are to benefit from an increase in the statutory legacy under proposals published by the Government.
Married couples and civil partners should not assume that when their spouse or civil partner dies, they will automatically be entitled to everything. If the deceased died before 1st February 2009, and they had a spouse or civil partner and children, their spouse or civil partner would receive the deceased's personal possessions, the first £125,000 of the estate and a life interest (the use of the assets for life and the right to the income they produce, but not the assets themselves) in half of the rest of the estate.
If the deceased did not have children, but had a surviving parent, sibling or nephew or niece, their spouse or civil partner would receive the deceased's personal possessions, the first £200,000 of the estate and a life interest in half the balance.
Sometimes (but not always) jointly owned assets may pass to the co-owners, irrespective of the above rules.
For deaths on or after 1st February 2009, if the deceased had children, their spouse or civil partner would receive the deceased's personal possessions, the first £250,000 of the estate and a life interest in half of the rest of the estate.
If the deceased did not have children, but had a surviving parent, sibling or nephew or niece, a spouse or civil partner would receive the deceased's personal possessions, the first £450,000 of the estate and a life interest in half the balance.
Any assets passing to a child of the deceased will be given to them when they reach 18 years of age. Therefore if you want to defer their entitlement to say 21 or later you should make a Will.
There is also no provision under the rules of Intestacy for partners or cohabitees. If you are in a long term relationship and you would like to provide for your partner then you must make a Will to avoid the upset that this may cause your loved ones.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of this information, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Private Client team above or by sending an enquiry using the enquiry form on the right hand side of this page.
This information does not constitute legal advice in its own right. Always seek personal advice direct from a Solicitor before you take any action.