Inheriting if there is no will

Who can inherit if there is no will

When a person dies without leaving a will the personal representative must distribute the estate according to the rules of intestacy. Even if the personal representative wishes to give some of the property to certain people because s/he feels this is what the person who has died would have wanted, s/he can only do this if they are entitled to inherit under these rules.

The rules provide that only married partners, civil partners and some other close relatives are able to inherit. Unmarried, gay or lesbian partners who have not registered a civil partnership, people related by marriage and friends have no rights to inherit under the rules. They may, however, be able to apply for financial provision from the estate of the person who has died.

The distribution of property from an intestate estate depends on:-

In certain situations, the distribution of an intestate estate can be varied by those who would normally inherit under the intestacy rules.

What happens if someone cannot inherit under the intestacy rules

Some people are not entitled to inherit from an estate under intestacy rules. These people include unmarried, lesbian and gay partners (where they have not registered a civil partnership) of the person who has died intestate. They may, however, still be able to apply for financial provision from the estate.

Married partners and civil partners

In order to inherit from an intestate estate, the partner must at the time of death, be married to the person who has died or be a civil partner of the person who has died. If a couple are informally separated, for example, they are not divorced or the civil partnership has not been dissolved, the surviving partner is still considered to be married or to be a civil partner. Lesbian and gay partners who have not registered a civil partnership cannot inherit under the intestacy rules.

In order for a married partner or civil partner to inherit under the intestacy rules, s/he must also survive the person who has died by at least 28 days. If the partner dies within 28 days of the other's death, see below.

If one married partner or civil partner dies within 28 days of the other, it is presumed that they died at exactly the same time. This is different from the normal presumption in England and Wales that the older of the two people who have died died first.

The surviving married partner or civil partner of a person who has died without leaving a will inherits the whole estate if:-

The surviving partner will inherit only some of the estate if the person died in circumstances other than those listed in the paragraph above. The amount s/he will inherit depends on the value of the estate and the relationship of the relatives who survive.

If the estate is valued at more than £125,000 and there are surviving issue (children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren) of the person who has died, the partner will inherit:-

If the estate is valued at more than £200,000 and the person who has died has no surviving issue (children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren), but does have surviving parents, the partner will inherit:-

If the estate is valued at more than £200,000 and the person who has died has no surviving issue (children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren) or parents, but does have surviving brothers, sisters, nephews or nieces, the partner will inherit:-