If there isn’t a will

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If someone has died without making a will

When someone close to you has died, finding out that they didn’t leave a valid will can make a difficult time a lot more stressful. If they were your spouse or partner, you may have been financially dependent on them. And if you were expecting to inherit their whole estate, the absence of a will could leave you substantially worse off. At a time like this, it’s important to find out your legal position, and whether there’s anything you can do to improve it.  

What intestacy law does

The law says that the property of an ‘intestate person’ must be shared out in a certain way. Married partners or civil partners are usually first in line – but the rights of unmarried partners are a lot less clear. Children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren come next. More distant relatives – such as nephews and nieces – could also be in line for a portion of the estate. It is possible to rearrange the way that the estate of an intestate person is shared – but everyone affected must agree. 

How we can help

Our legal experts can help you understand what the intestacy laws mean for you. They’ll explain who can administer the estate and what the rules say about who is in line to benefit from it. They’ll also explore what flexibility (if any) might exist in your particular situation – and how you could go about changing the way that the estate is divided up.

We’ll

  • speak to you with kindness and compassion
  • explain the intestacy laws and what they mean for you
  • advise you on whether you could get the distribution of the estate changed

All advice contained within this section relates to England and Wales only.

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Meet your experts
Ben Rosser Sq Ben Rossor Ben joined Which? in 2015, prior to this having worked in private practice. He now enjoys using his knowledge to aid members with their issues and queries on wills, probate and estate management.
ID Photo Sarah Henley Sarah specialises in supporting our members on Wills, the probate process, Powers of Attorney and estate administration. See profile
Paul Hanford Sq Paul Handford With over 20 years of varied legal experience, Paul now specialises in private client work, which includes drawing up wills and deeds of trust. See profile
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