Who inherits if you die without a will?

If you die without stating your wishes, the law will determine how your assets are distributed amongst your family. The rules that govern the process are set out in the intestacy rules. And there are regional differences.

Consider a parent whose personal assets amount to more than £1m.

In England and Wales

The husband, wife or civil partner keeps all the assets (including property), up to £250,000, and all the personal possessions, whatever their value. The remainder of the estate will be shared as follows:

  • the husband, wife or civil partner gets an absolute interest in half of the remainder
  • the other half is then divided equally between the surviving children.

If a son or daughter (or other child where the deceased had a parental role) has already died, their children will inherit in their place.

In Scotland

The husband, wife or civil partner gets the house up to a value of £473,000. They also get a lump sum of £473,000 if the house is worth more and may have to sell off the property.

They also get:

  • furniture and moveable household goods up to the value of £29,000
  • up to £50,000 in cash
  • a third of the rest of the estate.

The children will get two-thirds of the rest of the estate.

If a son or daughter has already died, their children (the grandchildren of the deceased) will inherit in their place.

In Northern Ireland

The husband, wife or civil partner keeps all the assets (including property), up to £250,000, and all the personal possessions, whatever their value.

The husband, wife or civil partner must survive the deceased by at least 28 days to inherit.

They also get one third of the rest of the estate.

The remaining two-thirds are shared between their children.

If a son or daughter has already died, their children (the grandchildren of the deceased) will inherit in their place.

Make a will

As you can see, if the wishes of the deceased are going to conflict with these outcomes, there is only one course of action that will remedy the situation: make a will.

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