Intestacy

Who inherits if someone dies without a Will?

If you have not made a Will, or a valid Will, once you pass you will die intestate. The manner in which your Estate is distributed following your passing is in accordance with the Intestacy Rules. The consequence is that your loved ones have no control over who receives your belongings or estate.
Below is a brief summary of how an estate would be distributed without a Will in England and Wales:

1. Cohabitees

If you have a partner, but you are not married or in a civil partnership, the Partner has no automatic right to inherit.

2. Spouses/Civil Partners - Estates worth more than £250,000

If the Property is less than £250,000 then the husband, wife or civil partner gets the estate.

3. Spouses/Civil Partners - Estates worth more than £250,000

If the deceased leaves behind a Husband/Wife or Civil partner and there are living children children/grandchildren or direct decedents (e.g great grandchildren), the estate is distributed as follows:

  • The husband, wife or civil partner keeps all the assets (including property), up to £250,000, and all the personal possessions, whatever their value.


The remainder of the estate will be shared as follows:

  • The husband, wife or civil partner gets an absolute interest in half of the remainder.
  • The other half is then divided equally between the surviving children.

If a son or daughter (or other child where the deceased had a parental role) has already died, their children will inherit in their place.

  • If there are no living children, grandchildren or direct descendants then the husband, wife or civil partner would get all of the estate.

4. No Spouse/Civil Partner or living children/ GrandChildren/living parents or other direct descendants

The whole estate goes to the Crown.

5. Other

  • If the deceased had any living parents then the estate is shared equally between the parents, but Inheritance Tax may be payable.
  • If the deceased had no living parents but has brother and sisters then the estate would be shared equally between the siblings. If a brother or sister has already predeceased, their children (nieces and nephews of the deceased) inherit in their place.
  • If the deceased had no parents and no brothers or sisters but has half-brothers or sisters then the estate is shared equally between the half-brothers or half-sisters. If a half-brother or sister has already predeceased, their children (nieces and nephews of the deceased) inherit in their place.
  • If the deceased had no parents and no brothers/sisters/half-brothers or sisters but had grandparents then the estate would be shared equally to the grandparents, but Inheritance Tax may be payable.
  • If the deceased had no parents and no brothers/sisters/half-brothers or sisters/grandparents but had aunts or uncles then the estate would go to the aunts and uncles in equal shares. If an aunt or uncle has already died, their children (the cousins of the deceased) inherit in their place.
  • If the deceased had no parents and no brothers/sisters/half-brothers or sisters/grandparents/aunts or uncles but had half-aunts or half-uncles then the estate would be shared equally amongst them. If an aunt or uncle has already died, their children (the cousins of the deceased) inherit in their place.

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This information was last updated on Last updated: 12 November 2015

COUNTRY of UK. The National Archives, Open Government Licence v3.0 Crown Copyright (2005) Intestacy - who inherits if someone dies without a will? (Taken from: https://www.gov.uk/inherits-someone-dies-without-will.
Place of Publication: Publisher OGL).