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What if There is No Will?

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 24 Sep 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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My dad died in January, I found out that he had another family and me and my sister had two more younger sisters, I'm The eldest of all. He lived with the mother but was not married to her they shared a mortgage and has said that he died leaving no money, but I don't believe her do I have any rights as his oldest daughter.
Mimi - 24-Sep-17 @ 9:07 AM
What if the only next of kin murdered his family members . Would the murderer's family (say children) get the inheritance
Bil22876 - 23-Sep-17 @ 2:02 PM
Marie - Your Question:
My Uncle sadly passed away without leaving a will. Does this mean his estate will be split equally between his 4 surviving siblings and as his 5th sibling has also died, will that share be given to the two children of his 5th sibling. Meaning the surviving siblings will receive a 5th share and the two children of the 5th sibling will receive a 10th each.Many thanks

Our Response:
Was there a spouse or any surviving children?
FacingBereavement - 22-Sep-17 @ 10:48 AM
My Uncle sadly passed away without leaving a will. Does this mean his estate willbe split equally between his 4 surviving siblings and as his 5th sibling has also died, will that share be given to the two children of his 5th sibling. Meaning the surviving siblings will receive a 5th share and the two children of the 5th sibling will receive a 10th each. Many thanks
Marie - 21-Sep-17 @ 2:13 PM
lilacshoes - Your Question:
Hi My Dad has recently died without leaving a will. He has a surviving wife. The family home is in my Dad's name only. I have read that the value of the house, all its contents and the car will automatically go to my mum, and the value of those items will be exempt from inheritance tax. Please would you tell me whether this is correct.Thank you

Our Response:
If there is no Will and the estate is worth more than £250,000 - the property and possessions are split as follows:
His wife keeps all the assets (including property), up to £250,000, and all the personal possessions, whatever their value.
The remainder of the estate will be shared as follows:
His wife has an absolute interest in half of the remainder
The other half is then divided equally between his surviving children
The current IHT threshold is £325,000
FacingBereavement - 20-Sep-17 @ 11:20 AM
Vicky cook - Your Question:
Hi my gran has late stage dementia and didn't write her will out. She has and only child and a joint bank account with my mother but my grans sisters are after everything. I was wondering what to do? She has a rent house and my grandad died years ago will it all go to my mam?

Our Response:
If there is no Will the natural rules of inheritancy say that the estate is sharing equally between the children of the deceased (or their children if they have already died).
FacingBereavement - 19-Sep-17 @ 1:52 PM
Hi My Dad has recently died without leaving a will.He has a surviving wife.The family home is in my Dad's name only. I have read that the value of the house, all its contents and the car will automatically go to my mum, and the value of those items will be exempt from inheritance tax. Please would you tell me whether this is correct. Thank you
lilacshoes - 19-Sep-17 @ 6:59 AM
Hi my gran has late stage dementia and didn't write her will out. She has and only child and a joint bank account with my mother but my grans sisters are after everything. I was wondering what to do? She has a rent house and my grandad died years ago will it all go to my mam?
Vicky cook - 18-Sep-17 @ 10:10 AM
Mike - Your Question:
My mum is terminally ill but is still about to marry her partner of 3 years she owns her own property she has 3 children of her own. When she dies will her property go to the new husband even though they will only have been married less than six months and my mum has owned the house for 9 years ?

Our Response:
Yes the normal inheritance rules state that the spouse keeps all the assets (including property), up to £250,000, and all the personal possessions, whatever their value. The remainder of the estate will be shared as follows: the husband, wife or civil partner gets an absolute interest in half of the remainder and the other half is then divided equally between the surviving children. As you are not the children of your mother's new partner obviously this will not relate to you. You mother might want to think about writing a Will if she wants to protect any of what you consider to be your inheritance.
FacingBereavement - 6-Sep-17 @ 2:45 PM
My mum is terminally ill but is still about to marry her partner of 3 years she owns her own property she has 3 children of her own. When she dies will her property go to the new husband even though they will only have been married less than six months and my mum has owned the house for 9 years ?
Mike - 5-Sep-17 @ 7:03 AM
My was married before and have one child ,and his wife was passed away and get married again then also the wife was passed away now he passed away and he was stayed with other wife married customary married and left the son with me I'm the sister so my point is it is possible to bury my brother at my place of birth next to his parents also the son has right to claim that his father must be buried at his place of birth not in the third wife's place pls help
Zipho - 30-Aug-17 @ 12:33 AM
Janet - Your Question:
My mum died in 1997 and I've recently found out my sister and possibly our brother claimed our mum's life insurance and kept it for them selves. There was no will and no probate. Our mothers insurance should have been shared between 3 siblings and our late brothers two daughters. Is it possible to get my fare share?

Our Response:
The person who was named as beneficiary on the life insurance policy If it was written in trust) would have been able to claim at the time.You should seek professional legal advice to try and resolve this if you think the value of the life insurance policy was significant.
FacingBereavement - 15-Aug-17 @ 1:55 PM
My mum died in 1997 and I've recently found out my sister and possibly our brother claimed our mum's life insurance and kept it for them selves. There was no will and no probate. Our mothers insurance should have been shared between 3 siblings and our late brothers two daughters. Is it possible to get my fare share?
Janet - 13-Aug-17 @ 5:53 PM
AlanJ - Your Question:
My dad has passed away last year without a will. He divorced my mom long time ago and was living with his friend (not married). He owned a property with his friend but only his friends name is on the title register of land register. His friend told us that he found an unsigned letter saying he left everything to himself. We are three brothers and my other brother was in charge of everything but as I live far from them they don't give me sufficient information. I am really strangling with the finance and was hoping some help from my dad. Is there any route I should go? Thanks

Our Response:
If the property was in his friend's name your father wouldn't be in position to leave that to anyone as it didn't officially belong to him. If he left a Will that was recognised by the legal system, then his other possessions/money will go to those named in the Will. If there was no Will, any other possessions/money belonging to him would automatically go to a spouse/civil partner, if there is no spouse or civil partner they go to the children.
FacingBereavement - 11-Aug-17 @ 11:57 AM
My dad died and left no will. All I was told that my dad had nothing in bank and the flat he owned the half share was left to his unmarried partner who holds the other half share. I wasn't shown any bank statements or bills or receipts regarding spending or my dads belongings. How can I know if my brother is really honest to me so he didn't steal anything?
AlanJ - 10-Aug-17 @ 9:48 PM
My dad has passed away last year without a will. He divorced my mom long time ago and was living with his friend (not married). He owned a property with his friend but only his friends name is on the title register of land register. His friend told us that he found an unsigned letter saying he left everything to himself. We are three brothers and my other brother was in charge of everything but as I live far from them they don't give me sufficient information. I am really strangling with the finance and was hoping some help from my dad. Is there any route I should go? Thanks
AlanJ - 10-Aug-17 @ 9:24 PM
Willow - Your Question:
My sister passed away last week not leaving a will.she has 2 boys from a first marriage. Her husband is closing all the accounts with her name on them including the house. They have no mortgage on the house and a large amount of investments pensions ect. He is off to Australia in 2 week's and we don't know if he is planning on coming back to the UK. What if anything can I do for my nephews.

Our Response:
If there is no Will and the property and assets are valued at more than £250,000, the rules of inheritance state that her husband will keep all the assets (including property), up to the value of £250,000, and all the personal possessions, whatever their value. The remainder of the estate will be shared as follows: the husband, wife or civil partner gets an absolute interest in half of the remainder the other half is then divided equally between the surviving children. You may need to seek legal advice if you feel the husband has not gone through the probate procedure etc.
FacingBereavement - 7-Aug-17 @ 2:21 PM
trish - Your Question:
My only sibling, a sister and my mother both passed some years ago. My dad died recently. He died intestate. My sister had 2 children, I have 5. Who inherits his estate (less than £250k) and who is the administrator/executor in these circumstances? Thank you.

Our Response:
The estate is shared equally between any children or their descendents. So as your sister has already died, her children will receive her share. You can choose who you want to administer the estate. A solicitor will be able to advise you on this.
FacingBereavement - 4-Aug-17 @ 2:39 PM
My sister passed away last week not leaving a will .she has 2 boys from a first marriage. Her husband is closing all the accounts with her name on them including the house. They have no mortgage on the house and a large amount of investments pensions ect . He is off to Australia in 2 week's and we don't know if he isplanning on coming back to the UK. What if anything can I do for my nephews.
Willow - 4-Aug-17 @ 2:34 PM
My only sibling, a sister and my mother both passed some years ago. My dad died recently. He died intestate. My sister had 2 children, I have 5. Who inherits his estate (less than £250k) and who is the administrator/executor in these circumstances? Thank you.
trish - 2-Aug-17 @ 6:50 PM
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
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