What Happens If... You Die Without A Will?

It's giving Knives Out energy...
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If you’ve watched Knives Out, you know that the reading of one’s last will and testament can surely be an…interesting experience, to say the least.

In most cases, people usually draw up their will a few years or even decades before their death to ensure they are able to distribute their assets among people who matter to them.

But what happens if you die without a will?

Well, according to Citizens Advice, if you were to die without a valid will, then your property or estate will be shared out according to certain rules.

These rules are called the rules of intestacy, and a person who dies without leaving a will is called an intestate person.

Only married or civil partners and some other close relatives can inherit under the rules of intestacy. If someone makes a will but it is not legally valid, their property will be shared according to a legal default, and not according to the wishes expressed in the will.

So what are these intestacy rules?

According to the Legal & General life insurance firm, a husband, wife, or civil partner can keep all assets (including property) up to a value of £270,000 and all their personal possessions, regardless of value.

Anything else that remains will be split in half. One half will remain with the spouse or civil partner. The other half will be divided equally between the deceased’s surviving children.

In case you had no children upon your death, your spouse inherits everything.

In case you died unmarried but have kids, the estate will be inherited by your children on their 18th birthday, and it will be split equally between them should you have more than one. If your child died before you but has kids of their own, they inherit that share instead.

If you were unmarried with no children, your estate will be allocated in the following order: your parents, full siblings, half-siblings, grandparents, uncles and aunts (then their children), half-uncles and half-aunts (then their children).

According to Citizens Advice, if there are no surviving relatives who can inherit under the rules of intestacy, the estate passes to the Crown. This is known as bona vacantia. The Treasury Solicitor is then responsible for dealing with the estate.

It is also important to know that in the UK, cohabiting couples do not have an automatic right to make a claim on their deceased partner’s estate. They can make a financial claim if they can prove they were financially dependent on the deceased.

Intestacy rules slightly differ in Scotland, where a surviving spouse or partner can claim ‘prior rights’ to a share of property and assets.

And in case you want to know the outcome that is specifically tailored to your circumstances, the UK government website has a handy guide to understand what dying without a will would mean for you. Simply check whatever boxes apply to you and view the outcome.

The more you know, right?