New intestacy rules explained
14 January 2013
If you die without a valid will the intestacy rules decide how your money, property and possessions will be distributed.
This may not reflect your wishes and can leave loved ones inadequately provided for, feeling left out or with complicated legal problems to sort out.
If you do not have a will, everything you own or have a share in is valued to form your estate. Your spouse gets the first £250,000 of your estate and half of the rest. The remaining assets will be divided equally between all your children.
Stephen Myers explains how the intestacy rules could affect you:
If you are married but have no children
The law used to give your spouse £450,000 from your estate, and the remainder was then divided between blood relatives. The new rules award your spouse everything, leaving other family members such as parents or siblings with nothing.
If you are married and have children
If you do not have a will, your children will now inherit a reduced share of your estate under the new rules. They may stand to inherit further from your spouse when they die, but this will depend on their instructions in their will or the intestacy laws at the time of their death.
Children from previous relationships may feel that they have not been adequately provided for if your spouse takes the lion’s share of the estate.
If you are living with your partner, but not married or in a civil partnership
The intestacy rules do not recognise unmarried partners, no matter how long you have been living together. All assets will be split equally between your children or closest blood relatives if you have no children. Without a will, your partner stands to receive nothing and may have to vacate your home in order for it to be sold.
The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. The law may have changed since this article was published. Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.