3: Rules of Intestacy

If someone dies without having left a valid will, they are said to have died "intestate". The estate is then separated based on the rules of intestate.

Outline of the Rules of Intestacy
The deceased dies leaving: Their estate goes to:
Spouse and children

If the total value of the estate is less than £125,000, the spouse receives the entire estate.

If the total value of the estate is over £125,000, the first £125,000 and chattels goes to the spouse.

The rest is split in two. One half in shared equally between the children immediately. The spouse has a right to the interest on the other half, with the capital being split amongst the children after the death of the spouse.

A spouse but no children and either parents or whole blood siblings

If the total value of the estate is not more than £200,000, the entire estate goes to the spouse.

If the total value of the estate is over £200,000, the first £200,000, chattels and half of the remainder goes to the spouse. The other half of the remainder is split equally between living parents. If there are no living parents the remainder is split between whole blood siblings

A spouse but no living parents or whole blood siblings

The entire estate goes to the spouse

Children but no spouse

The estate is shared equally between the children

No spouse or children

The estate is shared equally between living parents if any exist.

If not, it is shared equally between whole blood siblings, if there are any.

If not, it is shared equally between half blood siblings, if there are any.

If not, it is shared equally between living grand parents, if any exist.

If not, it is shared equally between whole blood uncles and aunts, if there are any.

If not, it is shared equally between half blood uncles and aunts.

If the deceased has none of these relatives the entire estate goes to the Crown.

Under the Civil Partnership Act 2004, civil partners are recognised as having the same rights as married couples under the rules of intestate. The rules do not recognise partners who are just living together.

These rules are an outline of the full rules which include further clauses, such as:

If you choose not to write a Will because the rules of intestate are adequate for your situation, you should look into the further clauses in more detail. Also be aware that the rules can and do change.

If a child, whole or half blood sibling or whole or half blood uncle or aunt would have been entitled to a share of the estate but died before the deceased, leaving children of their own, then their share will be equally distributed between their children. This rule cascades down to their children, and so on, if they are also predeceased.

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