When a loved one dies without leaving a valid will, their property (the estate) must be shared out according to certain rules. For example, these rules are called “The Rules of Intestacy”, and a person who dies without a will is called an intestate person.

Only married/Civil Partners, and some other close family relatives can inherit under the rules of intestacy. So, this could be Mother and Father, Wife/Husband, etc. However, if a loved one made a will but it’s not legally valid, the rules of intestacy will decide how the estate will be shared out, not by the wishes expressed in the will.

What to do when there's a Death without a Will?

Married/Civil Partners

Married or Civil partners of any sex can inherit under the rules of intestacy, but only if they are actually married or in a civil partnership at the time of death. So, if you have been divorced from the deceased or the civil partnership has been legally ended, you will not be able to inherit under the rules of intestacy.

Partners who have separated informally that’s without divorce proceedings can still inherit under these terms. However, Cohabiting partners, who were neither married or in a civil partnership will still not be able to inherit under the rules of intestacy.

Children and Grandchildren

If the deceased has any surviving children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren, and the estate is valued at more than £270,000, the partner will inherit:

  • All the personal property and belongings of the person who has died, and
  • The first £270,000 of the estate, and
  • Half of the remaining estate

However, if there are no surviving children, etc. the partner will only inherit the following: All personal property and belongings of the person who died, and the whole estate with interest from the date of death.