If a relative passes away without a Will in place, it can be hard for family members to know where to start with sorting out their loved one’s estate.
The probate team at Solomons Solicitors can help you with probate where there is no Will.
Contact our team today to find out how we can help you.
Who gets the estate where there is no Will
When a loved one passes away without a Will in place, this is referred to as ‘’dying intestate’’. The intestacy rules determine who inherits the deceased’s estate. This can create unexpected outcomes. For example, an unmarried partner of 20-plus years will receive nothing under the intestacy rules whilst a wealthy parent of the deceased may inherit the estate. For example, a loving and financially dependent stepchild will inherit nothing under the intestacy rules, but an adult estranged biological child may do so.
How the intestacy rules will affect a family depends on the individual family circumstances. In most cases where there are complex or blended family relationships, any non-biological family members will lose out as the intestacy rules follow strict biological ties rather than attempt to assess claims based on closeness to the deceased or financial need.
Dealing with an estate where there is no Will involves tracing family members so the estate can be distributed in accordance with the intestacy rules. It also involves an increased risk of a claim against the estate by someone who was close to the deceased but whose reasonable financial needs have not been met by the intestacy rules. For example, an unmarried partner or a stepchild.
Who sorts out the estate when there is no Will
The estate administration process is similar whether a deceased dies with or without a Will in place. However, the process is normally considered more stressful if you are appointed as an administrator of an intestate estate rather than chosen and appointed as an executor of a Will.
Having to follow the intestacy rules, and potentially trace biological relatives can add to the complexities of the estate administration, especially where there are estate claims from those not entitled to a share of the estate under the intestacy rules.
Administrators face the stress of dealing with an estate where the intestacy rules may not align with the deceased’s family circumstances in circumstances where an administrator is personally liable if they do not distribute the estate in accordance with the intestacy rules. That is why many administrators choose to instruct probate solicitors to support them through the estate administration process.
Letters of administration - the process
The person responsible for administering an intestate estate is called the administrator. They are the deceased’s next of kin. They need to apply for a document called a grant of letters of administration to give them the legal authority to deal with and distribute the estate in accordance with the intestacy rules.
Probate solicitors can advise on whether letters of administration are needed (it depends on the size and nature of the estate), who the administrators are under the rules, and the process of applying for the letters of administration ( the process depends on whether inheritance tax is payable or not).
Once the letters of administration have been obtained, the administrator (or their probate solicitor) can then sort out selling assets (such as a house or family business), paying any estate debts, dealing with any potential estate claims, and distributing the estate.
Speak to our Probate Solicitors today
Solomons Solicitors can help you with all your estate administration and probate needs, providing you with legal support and guidance.