When you are grieving the loss of a loved one, your bereavement journey can feel a lot harder when a relative or friend passes away without making a Will.
The probate team at Solomons Solicitors can assist you in sorting out and distributing the estate where there is no Will to guide you.
Contact our team today to find out how we can help you.
It is often assumed that if a loved one passes away without making a Will, their estate passes to those closest to them. Sadly, that is not necessarily the case. It all depends on family circumstances and relationship status.
When someone dies without a Will their property is distributed in accordance with the intestacy rules. The rules are strict and must be applied even though family members may think that they are harsh or unfair. There are ways to challenge the intestacy rules, but as standard, the law says that:
- If the person who died was married or in a civil partnership and there are no children, their spouse inherits all the estate.
- If the deceased had children, the first £322,000 of their estate would go to their spouse or civil partner, together with their personal possessions. Anything over £322,000 is divided, with the spouse or civil partner receiving 50% and the deceased’s children entitled to the remaining 50% divided between them.
- If the person who died was not married or in a civil partnership but had children, the estate is shared equally between their children.
- If the deceased was unmarried and had no children, their estate is shared equally between their parents. If there are no parents still living, then the estate is shared between any siblings, with the intestacy rules providing for more distant relatives to inherit if there are no immediate kin.
The intestacy rules ensure that a deceased’s estate passes to their nearest biological relatives. That does not necessarily mean that the estate will pass to those closest to the deceased. For example, under intestacy rules, an unmarried partner of 20 years gets nothing, and a stepchild is not entitled to a share of the estate.
If someone does not think that the intestacy rules make reasonable financial provisions for them, they can bring a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 if they fall within one of these categories of people:
- A wife, husband, or civil partner
- A former wife, husband, or civil partner (providing they have not remarried)
- A child or someone treated as a child by the deceased. For example, a stepchild
- Someone who was living with the deceased for the two years before the deceased’s death
- Anyone who immediately before the deceased’s death was financially dependent on them
If it is accepted that a claimant has a valid claim against an estate, a deed of variation can be drawn up rather than the claimant having to pursue a challenge against the estate through a court claim.
Administering an estate where there is no Will is a similar process to where there is a Will. The major differences are:
- A Will appoints executors to sort out the distribution of an estate. If a deceased died without a Will, then administrators are appointed to administer the estate and obtain letters of administration.
- If a deceased dies without a Will, the estate passes under the intestacy rules rather than under the provisions of a Will.
A probate solicitor can help you if you are appointed as an administrator of an intestate estate, or they can explain if you have the potential right to make a claim under the 1975 Act.
Solomons Solicitors can help you if you need legal advice on administering an intestate estate or if you have a potential claim against an estate.