Who can inherit if someone dies without a will – The rules of intestacy

Who Can Inherit If Someone Dies Without A Will? – The Rules Of Intestacy

In the absence of a will, the distribution of your estate is governed by the laws of intestacy. Here’s a breakdown of who stands to inherit:

  • Spouse or Civil Partner: If you’re married or in a civil partnership, but do not have any children, your spouse or civil partner would inherit all of your estate when you die. However, if you are divorced or if your civil partnership has been legally ended, your ex-spouse or civil partner would not inherit under the rules of intestacy.


    The position is different if you die leaving a spouse or civil partner and children. If your estate is worth less than £322,000, your entire estate still passes to your spouse or civil partner. However, if you have children and your estate is worth over £322,000, only the first £322,000 passes to your spouse or civil partner together with all of your personal possessions. Anything over £322,000 would then be divided – 50% to your spouse or civil partner and 50% to be divided equally between your children.


  • Children: If you have no spouse or civil partner, your estate would pass equally between any living children. If any of your children died before you, their children (your grandchildren) would inherit their share in place of your child.
  • Other Relatives: If you don’t have a spouse or children, your estate will pass to other blood relatives, such as parents, siblings, nieces, or nephews. The specific hierarchy of inheritance depends on the relatives surviving at the time of your death.
  • Unmarried Partners: Unmarried partners, regardless of how long they’ve been together, do not automatically inherit under the rules of intestacy. This can lead to complications, making it crucial for unmarried couples to formalise their wishes through a will.
  • Stepchildren and Foster Children: Stepchildren and foster children do not automatically inherit under the rules of intestacy, highlighting the importance of clarifying your intentions through a will if you wish for them to receive a share of your estate.

Understanding the rules of intestacy is essential, but it’s equally important to recognise the limitations.

Navigating a dispute arising out of intestacy can be complex especially when multiple parties are involved. Engaging the services of a qualified probate solicitor who specialises in will these disputes is highly recommended.

A solicitor can provide valuable legal advice, advise of any potential claims you may have against an estate, assess the strengths and weaknesses of your case, and guide you through the process.

A skilled solicitor will help you gather the necessary evidence and documentation required to support your claim. They can also represent your interests during negotiations or court proceedings, ensuring your position is protected.

Our team has extensive experience dealing with Contentious Probate matters.

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