What Happens if You Die Without a Will? 1

What Happens if You Die Without a Will?

Dying Without a Will

While thinking about death isn’t the most pleasant, having a Will in place is important so that your estate is divided according to your wishes. Pass away without one, and your money and property will be shared according to a legal default known as intestacy rules – a set of rules that allocates inheritance to your closest living relatives, regardless of your wishes. A Kent accountant for probate services will tell you how much easier it is to handle an estate with a Will in place, so this should be something on your to-do list. And remember to update it when a significant event such as a birth or marriage happens. Let’s find out more.


What Does ‘Dying Intestate’ Mean?

‘Dying intestate’ means you’ve passed away without a valid Will. The word ‘intestate’ is Latin for ‘without a testament’ and indicates that you’ve lost control beyond the grave. This might sound dramatic, but without a valid Will document, there’s no way to prove how you may have wanted your estate handled. Therefore, very specific intestacy rules will be applied that might result in a very different estate division than you’d imagined. Intestacy rules do not consider particular friendships or relationships you may have formed during life. They’re generic and designed to handle your estate with as little conflict as possible.

What are the Intestacy Rules in the UK?

In England and Wales, the intestacy rules are set out in the Inheritance and Trustees’ Power Act (2014). This has different implications depending on your circumstances. But, the husband, wife, or civil partner keeps all the assets of an estate, up to a value of £270,000, and all the personal possessions, regardless of their value. The remainder of the estate will then be shared out as follows:

  • The husband, wife, or civil partner gets an ‘absolute interest’ (full rights) over half the remainder.
  • The other half is divided equally between the surviving children. If an inheriting child dies, their children (if they have any) will inherit in their place.

There are a few other situations to keep in mind:

The surviving spouse would receive the entire estate if the deceased were married or in a civil partnership but had no children. If the dead is unmarried but has children, they would inherit the estate in equal shares on their 18th birthday. Grandchildren or great-grandchildren can inherit the claim if the children are deceased.

Furthermore, if the deceased were unmarried with no children, the estate would be allocated in the following order: parents, full siblings, half-siblings, grandparents, uncles and aunts (then their children), half-uncles, and half-aunts (then their children). Your estate will go to the crown if you’re unmarried and have no living relatives.

As you can see, intestacy rules have minimal flexibility. So, it’s really important to get your estate in order with a professional like Nick Hughes before making a detailed Will of your own. This will ensure your final wishes are met.


I am a writer, financial consultant, husband, father, and avid surfer. I am also a long-time entrepreneur, investor, and trader. For almost two decades, I have worked in the financial sector, and now I focus on making money through investing in stock trading.