Intestacy

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Intestacy

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

When someone dies without making a valid will, they’re referred to as having died intestate. As such, their estate is distributed according to the rules of intestacy

Rules of intestacy

Under the rules of intestacy, the residue of the estate (what’s left after all debts and liabilities such as Inheritance Tax have been paid) will pass to relatives in a strict order of surviving spouse or registered civil partner and in shares.   

Who inherits the estate depends on several factors including the deceased’s marital status, whether there are children and the value of the estate itself. 

Letter of administration

When someone dies without a valid will, the intestacy rules determine who is entitled to act as an administrator to deal with the deceased’s estate, and apply for a grant of letters of administration if required.

Which? Legal can help

When someone dies without leaving a valid will, it can cause a great deal of confusion and financial worry for close relatives and dependents at a time of grief and sadness. The rules of intestacy are complex.

Our specialist advisers can advise you on all aspects of the rules of intestacy and on the responsibilities that individuals have when acting as an administrator for an estate. 

We provide individual, jargon-free advice and step-by-step guidance to help you whatever your situation.  

Useful links and documents

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