When a person does die intestate, inheritance will automatically fall to either the married or civil partner at the time of death. This means that if you are divorced, your civil partnership has been legally ended or you were cohabiting partners but not married or in a civil partnership, you wouldn’t be entitled to inherit under the laws of intestacy. Spouses or civil partners who are separated informally are still entitled to inherit, and so if there are no surviving children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren, spouses or civil partners will be entitled to inherit the following:

  • All the deceased person’s personal property and belongings
  • The entire estate with interest from the date of death

If however, there are surviving children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren of the deceased person, and their estate is worth more than £250,000, the spouse or civil partner will then be entitled to inherit the following:

  • All the deceased person’s personal property and belongings
  • The first £250,000 of the estate
  • Half of the remaining estate

This then means that any surviving children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren would be entitled to half of the remaining estate, once the spouse or civil partner has inherited the first £250,000.

For couples who have jointly owned assets, such as a property or a bank account, the surviving partner may be entitled to inherit the deceased partners share. For properties, this will be dependant on the type of joint ownership that the couple had. For couples that had a joint bank or building society account, the surviving partner may be entitled to inherit the whole of the money.

Where there is no surviving spouse or civil partner, the children of the intestate person will automatically be entitled to inherit the whole estate. If there is more than one child, then all inheritance will be divided equally between each qualifying person. Under the laws of intestacy, children who inherit all assets must either be biological or legally adopted. Moreover, a child whose parents were not married or in a civil partnership can inherit the entire estate as long as the intestate person did not have another surviving spouse or civil partner. For children that are entitled, they will not receive their inheritance until the age of 18 or until they form a marriage or civil partnership before they reach this age. Until this time, trustees will be chosen to manage the inheritance on the child’s behalf.

In some circumstances, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren could be entitled to inheritance if their parent or grandparent has died before the intestate person. Furthermore, under the rules of intestacy, other close relatives such as parents, siblings and nieces and nephews may also be entitled to inherit from an intestate person. However, this will be dependent on a various number of circumstances. If you need help to understand who is entitled, a legal professional will be able to help make things clearer for your family.

Individuals who, under the laws of intestacy, do not have a right to inherit from an individual who dies intestate are:

  • Unmarried partners including those not in a civil partnership
  • Step-children who have not been legally adopted by the intestate person
  • Friends
  • Carers

In cases where there are no surviving relatives entitled to inherit from someone who has died intestate, all monies and estate will be passed to the Crown. This is also known as bona vacantia (ownerless property) and the Treasury Solicitor is then responsible for what happens to the estate. If there are no surviving relatives, but you think that you may be entitled to a share of the deceased person’s estate, you can apply for a grant.

Dealing with a relative’s death can be an overwhelming and emotional time and getting professional advice from a solicitor can help to ease the stress that can follow if a person does die intestate. For anything not covered above, such as:

  • Rearranging how an estate is shared
  • Applying for financial help such as a grant or;
  • Rejecting your inheritance

You can rely on our experienced and dedicated team here at QSBRR to help. Our Free Initial Assessment can provide you with an initial and basic assessment of your legal requirements, at no cost to you, which would last no more than 10 minutes. It’s the perfect way to have a no obligation chat with a legal expert in complete confidence. Similarly, our Clear Price Guarantee means that we’ll give you a full breakdown of costs in advance so there are no nasty surprises when you receive your bill.

Why not call us today on 01724 854000 to talk to a specialist solicitor to find out how we can help you.