THE INTESTACY LAWS OF ENGLAND AND WALES
What happens if you die without making a Will:
Making a Will is relatively straightforward and not very expensive. However, in spite of this, seven out of ten people in the UK who could and should make a Will die without a Will. This often causes delays, hardship and worry – and even costly legal bills can result if there is confusion and disagreement among those left behind.
Should you die without a Will or if your Will is deemed to be invalid (e.g. if it wasn’t completed or signed correctly) then you are said to have died intestate.
This results in the laws of the land deciding how your estate is distributed.
The distribution of your estate is determined by your marital situation at the time of your death. The following notes are meant for guidance only, and please note that the laws relating to Scotland and Northern Ireland differ in some aspects.
Married with Children (separated people are treated under these rules as still being married)
1) Your spouse gets:
a) car and house contents, plus
b) first £250,000 of your estate, plus
c) half of any surplus
2) Your children (stepchildren get nothing) get:
a) half of any excess over £250,000 outright when they reach 18 years
Married with No Children
1) Your spouse gets everything
Single, Widowed or Divorced (but not separated)
Everything goes to your children once they reach 18 years (if any), otherwise to your parents (if alive), otherwise to your brothers and sisters (or their children), otherwise your grandparents (if alive), otherwise your uncles and aunts (or their children), otherwise to the government
If you have a co-habiting partner, he/she will get none of your estate even if you have been together for 50 years or more.