Intestacy Rules

What happens to your estate if you die without a Will (Intestate)?

New Intestacy Rules with effect from October 1st October 2014

Summary of main areas of change

Unmarried Couples

No change – despite pressure from various areas the new law still makes no provision for ‘common law’ partners, irrespective of how long they have lived together and whether or not they have children together. The only way non married partners can inherit from each other is to make a Will.

Married couples/civil partners with no children

Old Law – only the first £450k of the estate plus half the remainder would go to the surviving partner. The other half would be split equally between the deceased’s blood relatives.

New Law – Married/civil partnership spouses are now entitled to whole estate if their partner dies without a Will and they have no children.

Married couples/civil partners with children

Old Law – Surviving spouse would receive the first £250k of the estate and a life interest in 50% the remaining estate, the deceased children would receive the other 50%.

New Law – Surviving spouse received the first £250k of the estate, instead of receiving a life interest in 50% of the remaining balance, they now receive it as an outright payment. The remaining 50% goes to the deceased’s children.

Adopted Children

Old Law – if children were legally adopted they effectively would lose any inheritance from their blood parents.

New Law – any child of the deceased will inherit even if they are subsequently adopted.

If a person dies and has no surviving children or direct descendants, the order of inheritance is now;

  • Your parents
  • Whole blood brothers or sisters, or their children if your siblings have not survived you.
  • Half blood brothers and sisters, or their children if there is no surviving parent.
  • Your grandparents
  • Your whole blood Uncles & Aunts, or their children.
  • Half blood Uncles & Aunts or their children.
  • Failing all of the above your estate goes to The Crown!


  • Intestacy Rules do not recognise unmarried ‘common law’ partners 
  • The effect of dying Intestate can be inequitable and unfair, especially to surviving spouses/civil partner – surviving dependents may be entitles to seek more adequate provision by making a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family & Dependents) Act 1975