Home > Legal Affairs > What if There is No Will?

What if There is No Will?

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 16 Jul 2017 | comments*Discuss
 
Will wills intestate intestacy

If an individual dies without having written a will then that individual’s belongings (usually referred to as that person’s estate) is said to be “intestate”. This means that the distribution of the estate is decided according to the law rather than anyone’s personal wishes. Usually the deceased’s closest family members will inherit parts of the estate though this may not always be the case. In order to avoid intestacy, it is strongly advised that all adults draw up wills.

Intestacy Law

“Intestacy” describes the state of an estate that still has assets once all outstanding debts and the deceased’s funeral has been paid for. These assets must then be distributed, and intestacy laws see to this distribution. Intestacy laws differ across the United Kingdom. In England and Wales the governing law is the Administration of Estate Act 1925. In Northern Ireland, the Rules of Intestacy are quite similar. In Scotland, the Succession (Scotland) Act 1964 is the guiding legislation. In general these laws require that the estate be divided between blood and legal (spouse/civil partner) relatives only. However, the ways in which an estate would be divided between spouses/civil partners, children (and grandchildren/great-grandchildren), parents and siblings differ.

Tax Implications

If the law decides who inherits which parts of an estate, then any applicable taxes must be paid. However, very often the tax implications of a death can be reduced if a solicitor is consulted and structures a will in the most advantageous way for those who stand to inherit.

Dealing with Intestate Issues

If you are a surviving relative of someone who has passed away without leaving a will then it is best to consult a solicitor as soon as possible. Check in with the deceased’s solicitors to make sure that they are not holding a copy of the will and do a thorough search of all of the individual’s documents. Try to gather together as much evidence of the estate as you can: bank statements, deeds to property, valuable items, etc. If there are possessions of particular value that could be liable to harm or theft, consult a solicitor about putting them into a safe until they are distributed. The solicitor will also advise you on who should be acting as administrator of the estate (and doing these jobs). Usually this will be a relative. The administrator must follow all laws regarding the distribution of the estate, even if they run counter to what the deceased may have said while (s)he was alive.

When an individual dies without a will, the administration of his or her estate can become a complex and lengthy affair. At the end of it taxes will need to be paid, as well as fees for legal counsel. The best way to avoid this situation is to simply ensure that all adults have drawn up wills. Wills should be updated upon the birth of children, marriage, divorce, remarriage or in the event that dramatic changes occur and it is decided that someone who previously stood (or did not stand) to inherit should no longer be in (or out of) the will. Even if the idea of writing a will seems distasteful or superstitious, these are not good enough reasons to leave family members with the nightmare of wading through personal and estate affairs. If you do not have a will, consult your solicitor soon about ensuring that your wishes are carried out after your death.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
My father died unexpectedly last year leaving no will to his house my sister who I haven't spoke to in 10years notified me by text message she then organised his funeral in which I had no say in also kept his ashes.sincethen I was told I wasn't allowed in his house because of probate when I finally was allowed to go in I noticed a lot of his things had been removed she then said I should clear the house as she couldn't face it which I knew was a lie because of the missing items after I had cleared it out she then said she wanted the key back and was organising estate agents to value and put up for sale she didn't tell me a thing about where or who was the estate agent months later she let me know by text again that she had a offer and she's accepting it and would let me know ever since my father passed away she hasn't let me no know anything well now she's saying it is saying his house is unregistereid with land registry as when he bought his home it wasn't compulsory so it's going to take longer where do I legally stand with all this I know she's lying even down to his funeral he had life insurance and had done for years but his funeral was just cheap he had pension and he a a healthy bank account I haven't seen any of this I'm just going round in circles and it's even harder knowing she's a bare faced liar please can anyone advice what I should do next
Donna - 16-Jul-17 @ 10:41 AM
hi my mother passed away a couple of week ago a year after my farther leaving me and my younger brother there is no will but the house was morgage free i want my brother to have the house we have found the deeds but as there are no funds for the funeral dont know what to do as because there is a house will it have to be sold
lisab - 14-Jul-17 @ 12:06 PM
My son passed last February 17th, 2016, his ex wife was driving on a suspended license she rolled the vehicle, my son passed he was in the front passenger seat, and her oldest son passed from another father in the back. My son just came in contact with his father 6: month's before this accident. After the accident the coroner's office gave me my son's personal belongings, I found his father's number and we set a day and time to meet at the mortuary that I picked, to sign cremation paper's, my son wanted to be cremated. He got in to San Bernardino to late, so he said that he would spend the night in town, and in the morning her would meet with me. I did not know that he stayed with my son's exwife, the next morning he did not show up and would not answer my calls or text. I Called for the release date from the coroner's office, and I was told that my son was already released, and they could not tell me anything else. My son's dad after making arrangements with me our son's mother went to court with our son's exwife, and got a Judgement to take my son form coroner's behind my back, the judge assumed that they were mother and father. When I became aware of this wonderful news, I filed and went to court when the judge realized that he had ruled incorrectly, he still refused to change his ruling. I have taken this to the higher Court in Riverside CA, the judge and father did nit respond. I've been waiting since last February for a decision. I used all of my bereavement time from work in and out of court, I haven't been able to morn the loss of my son. I never got to see my son after the accident, his grandmother, and aunts, niece's and nephews, friend, the entire Family never got to see him. I am devastated. Who can help me, what can I do. His father and his exwife Penalty upon perjury on the court, the judge didn't confirm that who was in front of him was mother and father, because if they were, why on earth would they go to court for a Judgement, all they would have to do is go to the coroner's office. Please, please help me and my family make this right, and have those that need to be punished, be punished.Thank you for your time. Patricia Mares 909.648.8977
Frankie - 13-Jul-17 @ 12:39 AM
sad girl - Your Question:
My dad died over 30 yrs ago. He left no will so my mum who he was married got the house. About 10 yrs ago my brothers girlfriend threw my mum out and she came to live with me.Another brother put her in sheltered accommodation about 5yrs ago and has control of her finances. meanwhile my other brother who threw her out has put the house in his name and refuses to let my mum sell the house. there are 8 siblings altogether can he just claim the house? he has secured business debts on the house, What can my mum do? She wants the house sold to pay for her to go into a home and give the other siblings some money.

Our Response:
This sounds like fraudulent activity on your brother's part unless he legitimately "bought" the house from your mother. Your mother will be asked questions about her finances to pay for a care home. Check with the land registry - they will have details aboutchanges on the title deeds (your mothe will have had to sign etc). Seek legal advice to pursue it via the courts if you feel something has been done dishonestly.
FacingBereavement - 5-Jul-17 @ 10:01 AM
my dad died over 30 yrs ago. He left no will so my mum who he was married got the house. About 10 yrs ago my brothers girlfriend threw my mum out and she came to live with me.Another brother put her in sheltered accommodation about 5yrs ago and has control of her finances. meanwhile my other brother who threw her out has put the house in his name and refuses to let my mum sell the house. there are 8 siblings altogether can he just claim the house? he has secured business debts on the house, What can my mum do? She wants the house sold to pay for her to go into a home and give the other siblings some money.
sad girl - 4-Jul-17 @ 1:15 AM
My dad passed away 8 years ago there was no will my brother said the house was mine he got everything else I've been living there since father passed away. We have not went through probate but now my brother while I was out of town broke into the house and is throwing all my things away and moving his son in. I have paid all the land taxes and everything else for 8 years can he do this?
England - 8-Jun-17 @ 11:58 PM
hi my father who died 5 years ago had already signed his house over to my brother (who is an alcoholic) around 8 years ago because he didn't have a house of his own as he has never worked and couldn't afford one. He would often say he didn't want the house or money from it and would share it between him, my two sisters and me. my brother lived away and was never around unless he wanted money. When my father died he decided to come back home to look after my mum who has dementia. My mum now has to live in a home because of ill health and my brother could not manage her (mainly because of being under the influence of alcohol). He has now sold the house and all her furniture and moved back away and has gone back on his word and as they say took the money and ran. Is there anyway we can contest this?
kostas - 1-Jun-17 @ 3:06 PM
Eldest.child - Your Question:
Hi my mom died in 2009, I moved out of family home when I started my own family and my youngest brother also moved out years ago, my middle brother never moved out he worked away all week and only stayed at weekends. A couple of years before mom died she signed the house over to middle brother as she was told it would avoid inheritance tax when she died. We were always told the house would be split between the 3 of us but she never left a will, my middle brother has always spoke of getting our names on the deeds but never got round to it, now he has a new girlfriend who lives with him and doesn't want to sell the house as was always intended, do I have any right to it as its in his name

Our Response:
You should seek professional legal advice on this. Ordinarily a parents' property would be split equally between the children but as the house was effectively already owned by one of them, that may not be included in the estate.
FacingBereavement - 26-May-17 @ 2:11 PM
Hi my mom died in 2009, I moved out of family home when I started my own family and my youngest brother also moved out years ago, my middle brother never moved out he worked away all week and only stayed at weekends. A couple of years before mom died she signed the house over to middle brother as she was told it would avoid inheritance tax when she died. We were always told the house would be split between the 3 of us but she never left a will, my middle brother has always spoke of getting our names on the deeds but never got round to it, now he has a new girlfriend who lives with him and doesn't want to sell the house as was always intended, do I have any right to it as its in his name
Eldest.child - 24-May-17 @ 3:06 PM
Jlaura - Your Question:
My mam has passed away and my step dad, which had left my mam and had been having an affair, but they are still married he is next of kin and they have a mortgage both there names on the mortgage what are my rights with this if any I would like to no if me and my 3 sisters have any rights to anything as he is putting it up for sale ?

Our Response:
You should try and check this with a solicitor, if you are now adult (i.e not dependent) and your mother and step father were still officially married it may be that most of the estate goes to him as the spouse.
FacingBereavement - 23-May-17 @ 12:18 PM
My mam has passed away and my step dad, which had left my mam and had been having an affair, but they are still married he is next of kin and they have a mortgage both there names on the mortgage what are my rights with this if any I would like to no if me and my 3 sisters have any rights to anything as he is putting it up for sale ? .
Jlaura - 22-May-17 @ 9:14 AM
My Grandfather died and he had 1 blood daughter and 2 stepdaughter. My mother died (blood relative daughter)when I was a minor child at the time and the stepdaughters fraud some paper work and stole my property the property from me. How can I get help with this matter?
Char - 20-May-17 @ 4:22 PM
Hi my daughters husband just passed away there .he was only 38 ...and there was no will. Now family members are asking her for the jewellery back that they bought him....Is she entilted to give this jewellery back?
Honeybee - 13-May-17 @ 6:23 PM
My wife is dealing with her bereaved mother's estate (approx £24K). She has a younger brother who has stated he does not want any of the proceeds of the estate, What arrangements does my wife need to make to legitimise his requirement.
JC - 11-May-17 @ 1:31 PM
If my brother died without leaving a will and his house is in trust but I've been living with him for seven years and I signed papers to be his beneficiary do I get the house Eventhough he died interstate ?
Ceasar - 4-May-17 @ 11:46 PM
Leonie - Your Question:
My dad died last july an didnt have a will my brother who I trusted at the time took charge of everything.my dads funeral was paid for before his death so what ever was left over I thought would get shared three ways between me an my two brothers we didnt go to probate as we trusted him an now he hasnt shared our inheritance equally we only got a small amout of what was there an he kept the rest.an wont let us see an bank statments or bills that he said hes paid out of dads money.is there anything we can do to get him to hand over what is rightfully ours.

Our Response:
You should see a professional legal adviser about this.
FacingBereavement - 4-May-17 @ 12:42 PM
Figirl - Your Question:
My partner of 2 years has just passed away and had 2 children 18 and 20 who is the next of kin, me as I was engaged to marry him or his blood line children.

Our Response:
His children will probably be considered next of kin especially if you were not married.
FacingBereavement - 4-May-17 @ 12:35 PM
I have two sisters and mom my dad died two years ago no will me and my wife moved in she gave me my dads body shop a 1984 bmw his shop tool box and other Stuff then my mom blames me for stealing and i didnt steal nothing she took all my stuff back and kicked me and my wife out and then my younger sister and her husband took over all my stuff that was my father's that my mom gave me in front of my wife i want what she gave me and what its worth my family has screwed me over time and time again im the only son and worked for my father for many years without pay i figure my money for working for my father went to the shop and house and land i hope i have a case i just want what is given too me my sister's got thier stuff but not me im in need of a lawer????
Steamroller - 3-May-17 @ 6:27 PM
My dad died last july an didnt have a will my brother who i trusted at the time took charge of everything .my dads funeral was paid for before his death so what ever was left over i thought would get shared three ways between me an my two brothers we didnt go to probate as we trusted him an now he hasnt shared our inheritance equally we only got a small amout of what was there an he kept the rest.an wont let us see an bank statments or bills that he said hes paid out of dads money .is there anything we can do to get him to hand over what is rightfully ours .
Leonie - 3-May-17 @ 4:11 PM
My partner of 2 years has just passed away and had 2 children 18 and 20 who is the next of kin, me as I was engaged to marry him or his blood line children.
Figirl - 3-May-17 @ 2:47 PM
my dad passed away a few years ago and all of his estate went to his then partner (they were not married), at the time I was only young so never really looked into it. Recently I discovered that my dad left no signed will at the time of his passing, should his then partner (of which he was with for about 10 months) been able to claim the estate and not share it out?
Anthony - 30-Apr-17 @ 8:08 PM
His there my mum has passed away just last week my dad died 30 years ago. She didn't leave a will. My sister has lived away for years and rarely saw mam,I have been her full time carer and though my sister verbally said she didn't want any thing I think that's changed and I would want her to have something but not half.is there any thing I can do
Charlie - 30-Apr-17 @ 11:05 AM
My father passed away 4 days ago leaving a will with half if his property in my name. My mother owns other half. My dad seperated 5 yrars ago. The property is in tenanants in common on the land register. What should i do now. Should i see a solicitor. The funeral has not taken place yet. It might be a few weeks yet. Can the funneral bd paid directly from the will in my name. Paid from my share of the property (will which names me).
Daljit - 28-Apr-17 @ 9:49 PM
di - Your Question:
In the past 18 months I have lost both of my parents and my brother, there was only two of us, do I get the estate. ?

Our Response:
If there is no Will the estate passes to the offspring (if neither spouse is still alive).
FacingBereavement - 28-Apr-17 @ 11:39 AM
In the past 18 months I have lost both of my parents and my brother, there was only two of us,do I get the estate. ?
di - 27-Apr-17 @ 8:48 AM
My son has recently passed away, he was single and lived with us had no children and no will.From what I have read,I understand that my wife and I will inherent his assets but do we need to inform anyone legally?
GD - 20-Apr-17 @ 1:44 PM
Hello can somebody help I lost my dad 13 years ago he was all I had in terms of family he was very well off had a company and we was very well of as I grew up no body wanted to talk about the money he left my family on his side gave all his things to charity and every one but me when I ask they don't talk to me and when I say any thing I get pushed away
Little - 19-Apr-17 @ 11:04 PM
I have a friend his dad died. He has a sister. Before the dad died. The daughter got all paperwork. And was getting into estate before death. There is no will. Now she has gotten the insurance. Not splitting it with sibling. And they want him to sign his name. On documents to sell house. The sister has gotten into bank. The brother has no money. What can he do and how can he get a lawyer. Please tell me there is something we can do thank you
Evie - 19-Apr-17 @ 5:25 PM
gina - Your Question:
Hi recently my brother has died, my mum has always been his next of kin, he also has two daughters 27 & 25. Can you tell me by law who is his next of kin

Our Response:
There is no real legal definition of "next of kin" in the UK. It's usually the closest blood relative or spouse. So you would usually name a spouse if you were married, a parent if you were a child and a sibling if you had no grown up children/surviving parents etc. Your brother would probably name his grown up children as next of kin in the absence of his mother.
FacingBereavement - 13-Apr-17 @ 12:27 PM
My mother was with her partner 10 years living together 8 years her partner died and his family took him back home to be laid to rest never wanted to know him for the 23 years he was living here is my mother entitled to anything or will they get everythingand he had no will..
lovexx - 11-Apr-17 @ 7:23 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • James
    Re: Inheriting Property
    My great uncle left me a property a few years back. As my aunty outlived him he made it clear that she can live out her days in said property.…
    23 July 2017
  • Sherbear
    Re: Coping with Multiple Deaths
    I'm not sure what to say but I can relate to a lot of your posts to some level. Within 3 years, I lost a friend, 3 aunts ( two…
    23 July 2017
  • dorothy
    Re: How Grief Affects Your Relationships
    He seems so perfect, but doing a lot behind you, true love and a honest man is given by grace,my husband has been doing…
    21 July 2017
  • Jo.b
    Re: Inheriting Property
    Hi there. My husband and his mum inherited 25% share each of his grandparents house when his grandad passed away 8 years ago. His grandmother…
    20 July 2017
  • katy
    Re: Coping With Other People's Grief
    sorrow can't last forever,i believe in that when i met the lord through a great soul Sharon,it happens that i had a very…
    20 July 2017
  • Donna
    Re: Dealing With Inheritance Tax
    After finding no will when our father died she just wtook over with everything I had no say in anything she got probate and as she…
    17 July 2017
  • marisol27
    Re: How Grief Affects Your Relationships
    sorrow can't last forever,i believe in that when i met the lord through a great soul Sharon,it happens that i had a very…
    17 July 2017
  • Nana
    Re: The Rights to Obtain a Headstone?
    My grandchild died and I can't get my daughter to start a gravemarker for her, if they refuse to do this, can I with out…
    17 July 2017
  • Donna
    Re: What if There is No Will?
    My father died unexpectedly last year leaving no will to his house my sister who I haven't spoke to in 10years notified me by text…
    16 July 2017
  • Marie
    Re: Inheriting Property
    My dad passed away last year .in his will he left the house to my brother to live in as long as he'd like .but if he sells it or passes any it…
    15 July 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the FacingBereavement website. Please read our Disclaimer.