Rules of Intestacy (England & Wales)

 

The rules of intestacy apply where there is no Will on death. This is known as being intestate. But it is also possible to be partially intestate where the Will excludes certain assets. The rules of intestacy only consider what happens to assets. Rules for guardianship of young children or people of determination are handled with separately. The rules of intestacy were updated with effect from 1st October 2014.
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Was the Deceased Married?

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This is the starting point. If the deceased was married or in a registered civil partnership, this is an important factor. Co-habiting or common law spouses are not recognised under the rules of intestacy. Therefore, if you have been co-habiting for 20 years, the rules of intestacy make no providing for you or your partner. However, you may have a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Families and Dependents) Act 1975. Although this is less certain and more expensive than a Will.
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Did the Deceased have any Children?

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Children include children born in or out of wedlock and legally adopted children; it also includes adult sons and daughters. However, it does not include step-children.
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Distribution of Estate

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For deaths occurring after 1st October 2014, the distribution is as follows:
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Spouse or Civil Partner Only

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All of the estate goes to a spouse or civil partner. However, former partners are not included in the rules of intestacy.
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Children Only

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Estate is equally divided amongst all children.
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Spouse and Children

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The spouse receives statutory legacy (a fixed amount which is currently (22-Nov-2020) the first £270,000 of their deceased partner’s estate), 50% of any amount over the statutory legacy and all of their personal chattels.
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The children receive an equal share in the 50% above the statutory legacy. However children are under 18, their share is placed in a statutory Trust which they will inherit at age 18, or as young as 16 if they are married.
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If any children of the deceased died before them, their share of the estate would automatically be inherited by any of their children (grandchildren of the deceased).
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No Spouse or Children

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Where there are no children or a spouse, assets are distributed amongst living relatives as follows:
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parents – equally if both living

brothers and sisters of the whole blood – equally and their issue per stirpes

brothers and sisters of half-blood – equally and their issue per stirpes

grandparents – equally if more than one living

uncles and aunts of the whole blood – equally and their issue per stirpes

uncles and aunts of half-blood – equally and their issue per stirpes

The Crown, Duchy of Lancaster or Duchy of Cornwall.

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Whole blood means sharing both parents,
half-blood means one parent in common.
per stirpes means taking the parent’s share equally
Issue means children
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Why Have A Will If The Rules Of Intestacy Work For You?

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It may be that your wishes are fulfilled by the rules of intestacy. However, there are many valid reasons why you should still have a Will. Listen to this podcast.
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If you would like to discuss the rules of intestacy or any Will or Guardianship matter, please call me on 050 594 5217, book a ZOOM call or complete our contact form.

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