Should you die without a valid Will in place, your property (estate) will be shared out in accordance with English Law under the ‘rules of intestacy’. The law sets out who should deal with the deceased’s affairs and how the estate must be shared.
This means that married partners and certain, close relatives only, can inherit under the rules of intestacy.
If there are surviving children, grandchildren or great grandchildren of the deceased and the estate is valued at more than £322,000, a partner will inherit all of the personal property and belongings, the first £322,000 of the estate and half of the remaining estate.
The other half of the remainder of the estate will pass to the children. Consequently, other relatives such as parents/grandparents, siblings, uncles/aunts and many others will not qualify to inherit.
If your estate is worth less than £322,000, your spouse will inherit the entire estate and your children will receive nothing. This applies even if you have informally separated from your spouse and not yet been legally divorced or ended the partnership.
Only married or civil partners and certain close relatives inherit under the rules of intestacy so if you have specific wishes as to what should happen after your death, these will not be fulfilled.
Even if the intestacy rules would deliver the result you would want, leaving a valid Will means your loved ones will inherit much more quickly and help them to cover any funeral expenses or inheritance tax, if payable.