INTESTACY RULES – NO WILL - LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION
A person who dies with no will that is valid is said to have died intestate. Where there is no will that is legally enforceable, the Intestacy Rules are applied to determine which of the deceased's relatives will receive what part of the estate. Any spoken or implied wishes of the deceased are irrelevant. With no will the estate is divided according the Intestacy Rules after a Grant of Letters of Administration is made to an interested party thereby authorising them to deal with the estate as follows:
[Note: Common law partners or co-habitees are not considered to be "spouses" for purposes of the Intestacy Rules. The deceased must have been lawfully married to a living spouse for the relevant part of the Intestacy Rules to apply. A 'dependent' at the time of death can however challenge distribution.]
An estate of less than £125,000 goes to the spouse.
Married with a lawful living spouse and no other surviving relatives: An estate of more than £125,000 goes to the spouse.
Married with a lawful living spouse and children: An estate of less than £125,000 goes entirely to the spouse where there is no will. In the case of an estate of more than £125,000 applying the intestacy rules, the spouse receives £125,000 as well as a life interest in half of any assets that exceed the £125,000 threshold. The deceased's children immediately receive half of the sum that exceeds the £125,000 threshold. The children receive the other half of this amount after the death of the spouse. Should the children die before the spouse, their children (the deceased's grandchildren) receive the sum to which their parents were entitled.
Married with a lawful spouse and no children, but has other remaining relatives such as parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts or uncles: Under the intestacy rules an estate worth less than £200,000 goes entirely to the spouse. If there is no will and the estate is worth more than £200,000, the spouse receives £200,000 and half of the remaining balance. The other half of the remaining balance goes to the other relatives in order of priority - parents; brothers/sisters; half brothers/sisters; grandparents; aunts/uncles; spouses of aunts/uncles.
Not lawfully married but has children: Where there is no will under the intestacy rules in this case the estate is divided amongst the children. The sum a deceased child is entitled to goes to their children.
Not lawfully married and no children, but has other remaining relatives as outlined above: The estate is shared equally amongst the remaining relatives in order of priority - parents; brothers/sisters; half brothers/sisters; grandparents; aunts/uncles; spouses of aunts/uncles. If any of the remaining relatives die first, where there is no will, according to the intestacy rules their share goes to their living children.
In cases of contested wills and contentious probate, there are three particular issues that are commonly litigated. First, there can be questions as to whether the testator was mentally sound and whether or not they were under any type of undue influence when making the will. Second, questions arise as to whether the will was properly witnessed by two independent individuals. Third, dependents of the deceased are legally entitled to continued support. A dependent can take legal action if the will does not provide the support to which they are entitled.
There are times when the original will cannot be located. In these cases, a copy of the will can be brought before the Registry with a request that it be judged a valid substitute for the original. However, non-beneficiaries of the copy may challenge its validity by arguing that the original was actually intentionally destroyed by the testator, thereby revoking it. A judge makes the final determination after a full, evidentiary court hearing.
Our solicitors specialise in matters of intestacy and litigating invalid wills. They can also provide advice and representation in cases of lost or destroyed wills. Contact us today for a free initial consultation. Just phone us on our helpline or complete contact form on this website. There is no charge for the advice, and you are under no further obligations.