Post by Katie Jones
When someone you know dies, such as a family member, it is normal to find yourself experiencing feelings of loss, confusion, and uncertainty. During those difficult times you can find yourself forced to confront demands from all sides as you struggle with legal concerns, family issues, and making all the necessary arrangements. It can quickly start to feel overwhelming and if there is no will, things are only going to become more difficult.
Without a will that outlines how an estate is to be divided, there are legal procedures that will come into play to dictate what is to be done. Not only may the final decision not reflect the way the deceased would have wanted things distributed, but the cost and complexity and time requirements can quickly grow.
With this in mind, here’s a closer look at the rules of intestacy – the rulings that determine who receives what. This should also hopefully encourage you to write a will yourself, to avoid this situation where possible, and ensure your possessions, money and estate are divided as you choose. These are your personal assets, so it’s wise to consider what happens to them after you have died.
A guide to intestacy
The rules of intestacy have been in operation since their implementation in 1925. The rules outline who receives what, and often dictate how much along the way. Whilst the exact amounts vary, depending on the situation and relevant members involved, the rules are nonetheless clear on the order itself.
- If the deceased died with a married spouse or civil partner, this person receives the estate. Depending on the amount, as well as other factors, this may or may not be all of the estate.
- Non-married partners are not included by rules of intestacy. Likewise, step-relatives, such as step-children, step-siblings and step-parents, are not considered. For the purposes of intimacy, only registered partners (such as marriage and a civil partnership) and blood relatives are included.
- Adopted children, including any step-children that have been officially and legally adopted, do count under the rules.
- The rules themselves follow these ‘classes’ of kin in a very specific order. If there are no living relatives in one class, the next is considered, and so forth.
In a normal situation, where this is a documented will, the Executors, or Personal Representatives, are those chosen or outlined in the will to be given the responsibility. This is given through right of Probate; this can only be given if mentioned in the will.
When there is no will, rules of intestacy looks to next of kin. These aren’t given a right of Probate, but a Letter of Administration will empower them to a similar situation. Since this uses the rules of intestacy, you might not always be notified, especially if you’re a distant relative or hard to track down. As such, if you think you may have a right to the estate, as per intestacy, additional assistance can help you with your options and application.