If you’ve recently lost a loved one and there was no will, you probably have questions about who can inherit their estate. To help you out, we’ve explained some of the most common scenarios below.
Married or in a civil partnership with no children
The surviving partner will inherit everything. This is also the case if the person who died had stepchildren, as stepchildren don’t stand to inherit anything under the rules of intestacy.
Married or in a civil partnership and has children
The surviving partner will inherit everything up to the value of £270,000. If the estate is worth more than £270,000, the partner also inherits half of everything over this value. The rest is then shared equally between the deceased’s children.
For example: John was married to Susan and had two children. When he died without a will, his estate was worth £400,000. Susan inherited all his personal possessions and the first £270,000 of the estate, which left £130,000. Susan also inherited 50% of this, giving her a total of £335,000. The remaining £65,000 was then shared equally between the two children, who received £32,500 each.
Note: If one or more of the children has already died, grandchildren or great-grandchildren can inherit their parent’s share.
Unmarried and has children or grandchildren
The estate is shared equally between the children, not including any step-children. If any of the children has already died, grandchildren or great-grandchildren can inherit their parent’s share.
For example: Linda was unmarried and had two children, Anne and Michael. When she died without a will, her estate was worth £540,000. Anne inherited £270,000 but, because Michael had already passed away, his £270,000 share was passed down to his only son.
Note: If Michael didn’t have children or grandchildren of his own, his share would also have been inherited by Anne.
Unmarried and has no children
The estate is inherited by the deceased’s close relatives in the following order of priority:
- Brothers and sisters
- Half brothers and half sisters
- Aunts and uncles
- Children of aunts and uncles (cousins)