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If I Die Without A Will, What Happens To My Estate?

If I die without a Will, what happens to my Estate?

If you die without leaving a Will, the Rules of Intestacy apply. So, what does that really mean?

We often meet people who, for one reason or another, have just never gotten around to putting a Will in place. It is only when they have clarity about what a Will is, what it can achieve, and the amazing benefits of wealth protection, security and stress reduction it can have for the loved ones they leave behind when they die, that they really appreciate why a Will is so incredibly important.

When a person dies without leaving a valid Will, everything they own, (The Estate), must be shared out according to certain rules. These are called the Rules of Intestacy. A person who dies without leaving a will is called an Intestate Person.

Only married or civil partners and some other close relatives can inherit under the Rules of Intestacy.

If someone makes a Will that is subsequently found to be invalid because it has not been drawn up and completed correctly, the Rules of Intestacy will be used to decide how the Estate will be shared out. Any instructions and wishes expressed in the Will will not be followed.

Married partners and civil partners

Under the Rules of Intestacy, married partners or civil partners can only Inherit only if they are actually married or in a civil partnership at the time of death. If they have divorced or legally ended a civil partnership, they are unable to Inherit under the Rules of Intestacy. Those who have informally separated at the time of death can still Inherit Under the Rules of Intestacy. However, cohabiting partners (sometimes wrongly referred to as  ‘common-law’ partners) who were neither married nor in a civil partnership can not Inherit under the Rules of Intestacy.

If there are surviving children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren of the person who died and the Estate is valued at more than £250,000, the partner will inherit:

  • all the personal property and belongings of the person who has died, and
  • the first £250,000 of the estate, and
  • half of the remaining estate

If there are no surviving children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren, the partner will inherit:

  • all the personal property and belongings of the person who has died and
  • the whole of the estate with interest from the date of death

Jointly-owned property

Couples may jointly own their home. There are two different ways of jointly owning a home. These are Beneficial Joint Tenancies and Tenancies In Common.

If the partners were Beneficial Joint Tenants at the time of the death, when the first partner dies, the surviving partner will automatically inherit the other partner’s share of the property. However, if the partners are Tenants In Common, the surviving partner does not automatically inherit the other person’s share.

Couples may also have joint bank or building society accounts. If one dies, the other partner will automatically inherit the whole of the money. Property and money that the surviving partner inherits does not count as part of the estate of the person who has died when it is being valued for the intestacy rules.

While automatic inheritance might sound like a great thing, it can leave the surviving partner and their loved one with further wealth erosion impacts, such as Inheritance Tax Implications.

Professional Help & Advice

As you can see, without having a valid Will in place, there is a myriad of ways in which your wealth can be distributed and diverted away from the people you wanted to receive it. Our team of financial advisers are always happy to discuss the best plan of action for you and your family so please just get in touch.

Redwood Financial is one of the south’s leading Investments, Pensions, Wills, Trusts & Estate Planning providers and we are dedicated to helping families to grow, protect and enjoy their wealth. With our unrivalled knowledge of Estate Planning, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Probate, Pensions, Savings & Investments, we can advise on any situation. Please call 01489 877 547 or email

We are winners of the prestigious Will Writing Firm of the Year 2018, and an approved member of the Trading Standards Buy With Confidence Scheme.

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