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What if There is No Will?

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 24 May 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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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
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
gina - 11-Apr-17 @ 3:26 PM
ok my gran died a few years ago and my mom stays in the house we maintain it as her other 4 siblings have their own houses but somehow the eldest keeps fighting and making issues about the house and i dont know what to do as my granny did not have a will and the house is still on her name
ally - 8-Apr-17 @ 7:37 AM
Anon - Your Question:
My grandad passed away 10 yrs ago and my nan recently. Grandad had other children from a previous marriage and is technically my step grandad as not my dads real dad. Are his children from previous marriage entitled to anything or would it be just my dad? We can't find a will.

Our Response:
No if there is no Will and assuming everything was inherited by your nan, then your dad and any other of your nan's offspring will inherit her estate.
FacingBereavement - 7-Apr-17 @ 2:41 PM
My grandad passed away 10 yrs ago and my nan recently. Grandad had other children from a previous marriage and is technically my step grandad as not my dads real dad. Are his children from previous marriage entitled to anything or would it be just my dad? We can't find a will.
Anon - 6-Apr-17 @ 9:00 PM
My fiancee of 17 years died last week in prison of an illegal drug.I was listed as his contact person and we have 2 kids.Why did his family get him cremated.They would have never know about his death had I not told them
Min - 4-Apr-17 @ 7:13 PM
this is a strange situation my father married my mom when she left her first husband and she had 5 children. My mom and dad married then had 2 girls my older sister and myself so im the youngest. now there are 7 altogether.so 5 are half related siblings ( because we have the same mother) and my sister and i have the same mom and dad. now growing up my dad and mom supported all of us because my half sisters father was a dead beat dad however they their dad had the money but my mom never went after him. my first question would be even though my mom passed can I go after the sisters for back support because they of course received money when the estate was sold and my sister promised me money since i listed the property and lost money because i had it on the market for 2 years they would not listen to me when i gave them the property value even before she payed a guy toappraise itbecause you know what do i know im the youngest so she makes him put the value at close to 1 milliion it was a joke. i got a all cashh offer for 750,000 and the 2 girls who are so unreaspnale and of course no evrything said that wasnt enough because they said you know there are 6 `people that we are going to recieve a portion. Who cares about your greed no onw wants to pay you more becuase there are so many involved. This is just 1 thing they did to me and i could of made 30,000 property stayed on the market the lsgt offer i got was 400,000 they said no. while later another agent listed it it stayed om market 2 uears they got 350,000 joke on them. My sister said she would give me 3,000 when she got the money but of course nothing. now i told my mother to please go after the estate for back support and she just couldnt do it she felt guilty even though they struggled thru out the marriage with money and so did me and my older whole sister but the 2 half ones get money from tier fathers estate and then when my mother had a stroke they went behind my back had her sign documents in the hospital 3 days after her stroke when she couldnt even see. top this all off i was going to take care of my father until i could make the best possible arrangement for him now what can i do about these girls who are devils in descise and get my things they tok that are mine because he is my father and get control over the health for him you dont even know what they put him thru
beauty - 1-Apr-17 @ 10:06 PM
This is about my family my mom gave it to me she had nowwill saying that but the family now's what she wanted after she past away but there 9 sibling including myself they have to sign papers so I could sell it or can I sell it with out the signature or will I get in trouble for selling it it's my house
Big T - 23-Mar-17 @ 5:21 AM
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Latest Comments
  • Gilly
    Re: Inheriting Property
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