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If a person dies without leaving a valid will then The Intestacy Rules dictate and determine who gets what. It doesn’t matter what the stated or unstated intentions of the deceased where, the law in the form of the Intestacy Rules decides the issue in the absence of a properly executed will. The following is a basic guide to what would happen under the Intestacy Rules:

~ Married with a lawful living spouse (i.e. not ‘common law’ partners which is not a relationship recognised under the Intestacy Rules)

~ Estate of less than £125,000 goes to the spouse. Estate of more than £125,000 and no other surviving relative (eg children, grandchildren, parents), everything goes to the spouse.

~ Married with a lawful living spouse and children Estate less than £125,000 goes to the spouse. Estate more than £125,000 then spouse receives £125,000 and a life interest in half of anything over this sum. Children receive half the sum over £125,000 immediately and the other half on the death of spouse. If the children die first their children receive their parent's entitlement.

~ Lawful spouse, no children, but parents/brothers/sisters/ grandparents/aunts/uncles Estate worth less than £200,000 goes to spouse. Estate worth more than £200,000, spouse receives £200,000 and half the balance with remaining half to the other relatives in order of priority - parents; brothers/sisters; half brothers/sisters; grandparents; aunts/uncles; spouses of aunts/uncles.

~ Not lawfully married with children Estate shared between the children. Should they die first their children would take their share.

~ The deceased leaves no will and is not lawfully married, with no children but with parents or brothers/sisters/grandparents/aunts/uncles Estate shared equally amongst them in order of priority - parents; brothers/sisters; half brothers/sisters; grandparents; aunts/uncles; spouses of aunts/uncles. If any of these have died first, but have living children then the children take their parent's share.

Common Errors That Invalidate Wills

Below are three of the most commonly litigated matters related to contentious probate and contested wills: A valid will is one that was made by a mentally sound adult who was not under undue influence at the time of making the will. Additionally, for a will to be valid, it must be signed by two independent witnesses, present together, who witnessed either the will being signed or an acknowledgement that the will was signed. The dependents of a deceased person have a right to continued financial support which means that if the deceased’s will does not make adequate provisions for a spouse, child or disabled person, then that individual can pursue legal action for a share of the estate. In some cases, the Probate Registry may accept a copy of a will when the original has been lost. A full court hearing is usually held and a judge decides, based on the evidence presented, if the will in question was lost or revoked by destruction by the testator.


If a will is deemed invalid and there is no earlier valid will which would then take precedence then the beneficiaries of the estate will be determined by the Intestacy Rules.

Intestacy Solicitors Legal Advice

Our intestacy solicitors can advise you on matters related to the Intestacy Rules and to litigating invalid wills as well as lost or destroyed wills. We can also give you advice on potential litigation surrounding a will with inadequate provisions for the care of a deceased’s dependent. We usually deal with contentious legal matters that go to court using the no win no fee scheme.


SOLICITORS HELPLINE: ☎ 0330 660 7004