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What if There is No Will?

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 20 Nov 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.

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ks - Your Question:
Hi Im divorced for over 10 yrs, but I have children with my ex, he is living with someone else, but concerned his assets will go to his partner & his children get nothing, he stopped contact with his daughters when they were young & not seen then for over 10 yrs since having a new life, but not down to my daughters im upset than my daughters wont get any assets that they deserve for his lack of not been around for them at no fault of there own , has my daughters got rights who are now adults

Our Response:
Unless your ex has written a Will to the contrary, most of his estate will automatically go to a spouse (has to be a marriage), if there is no spouse the estate is divided between his natural children.
FacingBereavement - 21-Nov-17 @ 11:50 AM
Hi Im divorced for over 10 yrs,but I have children with my ex, he is living with someone else,but concerned his assetswill go to his partner & his children get nothing,he stopped contact with his daughters when they wereyoung & not seen then for over 10 yrs since having a new life,but not down to my daughters im upset than my daughters wont get any assets that they deserve for his lack of not been around for them at no fault of there own ,has my daughters got rightswho are now adults
ks - 20-Nov-17 @ 2:18 PM
My dad who was a loner was diagnosed with dementia 1 1/2 years ago, my sister who didn't talk to him for years quickly took over POA knowing he's worth over 500.000 and didn't tell me or let me help him, she put him in a nurcing home and his house wasn't livible, she then fixed up the house and wouldn't let me help when I asked about then I was shocked a year later finding out she was living there with her daughter, my sister and I are the only next of kin, he passed 4 month ago and I been super depressed about all of this, what can I do? I am selfed imployed and only have enough to pay my monthly bills, can't believe she would be so greedy.
Anie - 18-Nov-17 @ 6:48 PM
hapla - Your Question:
I have been paying back 7 different debt companies £1 month for years as I got myself in to trouble with a bad investment in 2008. My father has passed away and he has left a decent inheritance but once I pay off my mortgage it will leave me a bit. I want to pay off the debt I owe but wont have enough to pay full amounts off, but also after years of stress ( ive not had a holiday for 10 years)would like to have money to have a better life. I know that this is what my dad would have wanted after all the years he saved for his kids. I miss him every day and want him to be proud. Any advice of best thing to do

Our Response:
We're sorry, we can't give individual advice like this. You might be better asking at Citizens Advice. There are some things you could ask yourself like - How many years will you knock off the debt if you pay back more now? Could you use some of the money to reduce the debt and also have a holiday? etc
FacingBereavement - 17-Nov-17 @ 12:24 PM
I have been paying back 7 different debt companies £1 month for years as I got myself in to trouble with a bad investment in 2008. My father has passed away and he has left a decent inheritance but once i pay off my mortgage it will leave me a bit. I want to pay off the debt i owe but wont have enough to pay full amounts off, but also after years of stress ( ive not had a holiday for 10 years)would like to have money to have a better life. I know that this is what my dad would have wanted after all the years he saved for his kids. I miss him every day and want him to be proud. Any advice of best thing to do
hapla - 16-Nov-17 @ 12:58 PM
KJP - Your Question:
I'm not sure Debs13's question was answered. I think she wants to know if her partner's adult children will have a claim on the house that is in her name if he dies not if he has a claim on the house if she dies.

Our Response:
No they won't have a claim on the father's partner's property, if it's in her name.
FacingBereavement - 13-Nov-17 @ 10:42 AM
My husband has passed without making a will and while we shared joint bank accounts his cars (4) were all in his name.Is there anyway I can sell Hesse a sap as all the mots etc runs out at the end December?
Matey - 11-Nov-17 @ 10:30 PM
I lived together with my ex boyfriend for 4 years, we split last year. We have one child, he is registered child by home office, he got my ex surname as well. I am polish, my ex boyfriend british, baby has dual citizenship. My ex has 2 siblings -they hate me from beginning (pffff polish woman with mix kid) and this siblings don't have any children. Grandparents are dead. So from this british family, my "mix" child will be the only "surviver" or descendant.The siblings are single, no spouse, my ex's brother and sister, with no children. My ex has only one child, my child. Can my child inherit everything from this family if there are no will,but I don't keep the contact with them any more. My ex visit me sometimes, and on the last visit he said to me: he has cancer !!!! He is 53 years old. If he dies without will, the question: how will I know that he died- we don't live together any more, can his siblings claim for his house and can they betray me - to keep in quietly that he has a registered son with birth certificate ??? What happen if a couple did not marriage but they have a registered child. After They spit. Father dies. No will. Siblings get everything ??? And if after this siblings die as well ? No children, no grandparents, no partner. But no contact as well, they don't keep the contact with they nephew. Usually I don't keep a close contact with my ex, he sometimes visit me and the child, shortly, but this is everything. I think, he doesn't want will, but with cancer he won't live very long....if he dies, does the authorities investigate, does he have a child or not ??? Who investigate it, does he have children from previous relationship ?
Annaa - 11-Nov-17 @ 12:09 PM
I'm not sure Debs13's question was answered.I think she wants to know if her partner's adult children will have a claim on the house that is in her name if he dies not if he has a claim on the house if she dies.
KJP - 10-Nov-17 @ 9:09 AM
Jay - Your Question:
At 31 found out my father was not my biological father. My biological father is dead. Never got to meet him. He has 3 daughters. 1 of them is to a different mother. Question is am I entitled to any of his estate?His wife is still alive and lives in the house they owned.

Our Response:
This depends on whether he wrote a Will or not. In the absence of a Will, most of your father's estate will have passed to his spouse.
FacingBereavement - 8-Nov-17 @ 12:04 PM
bren - Your Question:
Hi my friends aunt died in 2002 and then her uncle(her husband) died about a year later. They didn't have any children and someone has spoken to my friend and her aunt has left some money, she didn't leave a will so my friend would like to know who would inherit, would it be my friend,the niece or her uncle's family. thank you

Our Response:
If there are no children or parents, the estate naturally goes to siblings of the deceased. If the siblings have already died, the offspring of the siblings inherit in their place.
FacingBereavement - 7-Nov-17 @ 12:37 PM
At 31 found out my father was not my biological father. My biological father is dead. Never got to meet him. He has 3 daughters. 1 of them is to a different mother. Question is am I entitled to any of his estate? His wife is still alive and lives in the house they owned.
Jay - 7-Nov-17 @ 11:38 AM
B - Your Question:
If a granfmother leave a home to 7 kids and one of the seven kids past before her (Tina) and then a month later the grandmother dies.do the kids of the mother that died,gets her share.

Our Response:
If there is no Will, the grandchild(ren) will receive the inheritance if the child has already died.
FacingBereavement - 6-Nov-17 @ 12:51 PM
Sarah - Your Question:
Hi my father has died , with no will , we think. my eldest brother has dealt with everything he has devided all the money between us all , but it doesn’t add up ,my dad was mentally fine not confused and he told us what he had , is there anyway we can find out without asking my brother as I am sure there was quite a bit more money than he has said and my father had paid for his own funeral.its just grinding on me.

Our Response:
If there is no Will, the estate will normally go through probate. Your brother will have had to apply for a "grant of representation" and there will be a record of this. If the estate did not include any shares, land or property, he may not have needed to apply for probate, in this case there is not much you can do to find out how much was involved.
FacingBereavement - 6-Nov-17 @ 11:12 AM
@Rae. If you fall out with your parent and sister, why would you expect to be left anything in a Will?!
Sister Act - 6-Nov-17 @ 10:52 AM
If a granfmother leave a home to 7 kids and one of the seven kids past before her (Tina) and then a month later the grandmother dies.do the kids of the mother that died,gets her share.
B - 4-Nov-17 @ 8:11 PM
Hi Sarah, if the money is in the bank then you can trace what was in and what when out!? Probably best asking your brother this question. But why don't you want him to know your asking?
Screenwash - 4-Nov-17 @ 7:17 PM
Hi my father has died , with no will , we think. my eldest brother has dealt with everything he has devided all the money between us all , but it doesn’t add up ,my dad was mentally fine not confused and he told us what he had , is there anyway we can find out without asking my brother as I am sure there was quite a bit more money than he has said and my father had paid for his own funeral .its just grinding on me .
Sarah - 4-Nov-17 @ 7:05 AM
My mum died in didn't speak to her for a yearbeforeshe died in don't knowoff she made a willas my sister had fallenout withme years beforemy sister got everythingand I wasn't told anythingI am reallyangry but there's nothing I can do as she died about 7 years ago
Rae - 3-Nov-17 @ 9:57 PM
hi my friends aunt died in 2002 and then her uncle(her husband) died about a year later. They didn't have any children and someone has spoken to my friend and her aunt has left some money, she didn't leave a will so my friend would like to know who would inherit, would it be my friend,the niece or her uncle's family. thank you
bren - 1-Nov-17 @ 4:10 PM
QUESTION - My sister sadly died in April this year., and did not leave a will. She did not have children nor a partner.My mother has survived her. I will take the emotions out of this as a result of one of her sister's unacceptable behaviour during my sister's illness and after her death.. We initially gained access to the property when we found out that that sister was not stayng at theproperty. What we saw was shocking as the house had been turned upside down and the only places that you could walk through were the toilet and bathroom.However, the next day she had the locks changed, after, we believe, being tipped off by a neighbour of my late sister. That sister, who was my late sister's next of kin during her treatment at the hospital states that states will be residing at my late sister's house and will not leave until she sells her own home.(When I last passed her house there was no "for sale" sign at the property.).She claims she has been living with my sister since November 2015 and became her fulltime carer in April 2016. Please note that my late sister became ill on Boxing Day 2015, whilst visiting that sister's house. Do we have a right to gain possession of the property and securing it,without having to go through the courts?' Both my late sister's house and that sister's house are free of mortgage. Regards
Justice - 22-Oct-17 @ 2:35 PM
NICKO8 - Your Question:
Hi , My Sisters husband died (Brother in law) of 46 years recently. They have 2 houses (in joint name) and several bank/accounts in Both My sisters name ,Brother In laws name and Joint name. All , We presumed (he had no will),would be left to my sister as they have no Children/Grand children & his parents not alive. Then my sister died just over 2 weeks later then her husbands death,so all assets were the same as they were before both of them died( IE no account name changes etc). They both had no will, My sister is survived by myself and my brother. Her husband ( My brother in law is survived by one brother ) I have been told that all the estate would be left to myself and my brother , but know I have heard the my brother in law's(sisters husband) brother can claim anything in the sole name of my Brother in law only (Anything in joint name and in my sisters name is still passed on to Brother and myself) Can you please clarify the above and I hope it makes sense , Thanking you in advance, J jocko5 - 28-Sep-17 @ 5:12 PM

Our Response:
When the husband died his estate would have gone to his wife. Once she dies, her estate then goes to her parents if they are still alive or her siblings if the parents have died.
FacingBereavement - 16-Oct-17 @ 11:32 AM
Kezza - Your Question:
Hi, my dad was sadly murdered 3 years ago, and unfortunately there was no will of what I know. He was paying a mortgage off and I continued to pay this after his death. Some months may of been behind but I caught up. And havnt missed a payment since. The only thing is I pay it in to my sisters bank to pay as she is nok and delt with most affairs. She is now telling me I have to sell, as she wants her shares of the money. But she hasn't paid anything towards the mortgage, insurance or any work I have done in the house. Where do I tandem?

Our Response:
As one of the children, she is entitled to an equal share of the property. Did you father not have life insurance to cover the mortgage payments? This is often a condition that mortgage providers will stipulate. If you didn't want your sister to have an equal share of the property, you would need to apply to the courts with evidence of the monies you have paid if you want a larger share of the inheritance.
FacingBereavement - 13-Oct-17 @ 3:33 PM
Hi , My Sisters husband died (Brother in law) of 46 years recently. They have 2 houses (in joint name) and several bank/accounts in Both My sisters name ,Brother In laws name and Joint name. All , We presumed (he had no will),would be left to my sister as they have no Children/Grand children & his parents not alive. Then my sister died just over 2 weeks later then her husbands death,so all assets were the same as they were before both of them died( IE no account name changes etc). They both had no will, My sister is survived by myself and my brother. Her husband ( My brother in law is survived by one brother ) I have been told that all the estate would be left to myself and my brother , but know I have heard the my brother in law's(sisters husband) brother can claim anything in the sole name of my Brother in law only (Anything in joint name and in my sisters name is still passed on to Brother and myself) Can you please clarify the above and I hope it makes sense.
NICKO8 - 13-Oct-17 @ 12:06 PM
Jules- Your Question:
Our Dad sadly passed away in September. He left no will but was always clear how he wanted his estate divided. This was never in writing. There's 4 of us children. He wanted all 4 to have an equal share. All 4 of us agree. I'm the eldest & next of kin. My 3 siblings have agreed for me to deal with Dad's estate as he wished. I have never had to deal with this. What's my first course of action please. Our Mum passed a few years back & the estate is less than the inheritance tax level. Thank you in advance.

Our Response:
As there is no Will you will have to go probate. First you need to apply to the court for a grant of representation. Your can do this yourself or ask a solicitor to help. Once you've completed the probate application form (you can find it here here , you then have to set about establishing the value of the assets, such as money from the sale of the house, in bank accounts, insurance policies, savings accounts etc. You then need to pay any debts (outstanding bills etc). Once you've done that you can divide and distribute the estate equally between you and your siblings.
FacingBereavement - 13-Oct-17 @ 11:20 AM
Hi, my dad was sadly murdered 3 years ago, and unfortunately there was no will of what I know. He was paying a mortgage off and I continued to pay this after his death. Some months may of been behind but I caught up. And havnt missed a payment since. The only thing is I pay it in to my sisters bank to pay as she is nok and delt with most affairs. She is now telling me I have to sell, as she wants her shares of the money. But she hasn't paid anything towards the mortgage, insurance or any work I have done in the house. Where do I tandem?
Kezza - 13-Oct-17 @ 3:18 AM
Our Dad sadly passed away in September. He left no will but was always clear how he wanted his estate divided. This was never in writing. There's 4 of us children. He wanted all 4 to have an equal share. All 4 of us agree. I'm the eldest & next of kin. My 3 siblings have agreed for me to deal with Dad's estate as he wished. I have never had to deal with this. What's my first course of action please. Our Mum passed a few years back & the estate is less than the inheritance tax level. Thank you in advance.
Jules - 12-Oct-17 @ 12:59 AM
Debs13 - Your Question:
Question: if my partner dies (we have lived together for 3.5yrs) do his grown up children from his first marriage have a claim on my house? The house is in my sole name and would be mortgage free (as covered by insurance). He has paid for new kitchen and bathroom. Are they entitled to half of all we have, including the house? Thank you

Our Response:
If you're not married and his name is not on the title deeds, your partner will not automatically inherit any of the estate. You should write a Will to ensure you wishes are fulfilled.
FacingBereavement - 11-Oct-17 @ 12:26 PM
Question: if my partner dies (we have lived together for 3.5yrs) do his grown up children from his first marriage have a claim on my house? The house is in my sole name and would be mortgage free (as covered by insurance). He has paid for new kitchen and bathroom. Are they entitled to half of all we have, including the house? Thank you
Debs13 - 10-Oct-17 @ 11:01 AM
joholly7 - Your Question:
My mum passed suddenly on the 8th Sept (3 weeks ago)she has told all us five children thee was a will but my stepdad insists there is not,her life insurance covered the funeral costs with money left over which should of gone to us,at the time of death they didn't live together but my stepdad is now in her house using money from her purse to fund his living style,how can we find out if there was a will and make sure that we can get something to remember her by?the money is irrelevant to us we would just like a thing or two of her things for memories

Our Response:
You could try local solicitors or banks to see whether a Will is registered there. Are there any other relatives or friends who might have witnessed the Will?
FacingBereavement - 9-Oct-17 @ 3:29 PM
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