When You Die, Who Divides Your Estate?

When you, or someone you know dies, a lot of attention is placed on the will. Yet, arguably more important than the will itself is the decision of who becomes the Personal Representatives of the deceased and, thus, legally in charge of overseeing the will.

Normally, this is outlined in the will itself. Those listed as Personal Representatives or Executors will be given Grant of Probate. However, it’s also worth noting what happens if there is no will, or if no Executors are listed within. Whether you yourself are writing a will, or someone close to you may not have any named Executors, it’s important to be aware of what happens. When there is nobody to give Grant of Probate too, intestacy rules determine who receives a Letter Of Administration, as well as who receives what when dividing up the estate of the deceased.

Understanding Intestacy

The important part of intestacy is that it follows a strict order of family. Not everything goes to the direct-most relative. As such, an in-depth working knowledge of the family tree would be ideal. In any case, the rules of intestacy are very complex and professional assistance is always advisable. None the less, there are a few aspects you should at least be aware of:

  • The exact situation can vary, but the spouse usually gets first priority, with parents and siblings of the deceased closely following.
  • Under a certain amount, depending on the situation, the spouse will receive everything.
  • When passing out remaining estate, due to a lack of spouse or direct family for instance, the estate is given to the next ‘class’ of kin. The closest ‘class’ with a living relative, as of the intestate, is the one that receives the estate.
  • The system also works ‘per stripes’. If someone would inherit a share, but they themselves are deceased, their share is given to their relatives.
  • If no identifiable kin are found, it goes to the state.

What isn’t covered?

The rules of intestacy were created in 1925. Whilst a lot has changed since then, the rules themselves have not. As such, there are a number of parties that are not included. Without a will or designated executors, the following may not receive anything should you die intestate:

  • Unmarried couples, even if living together, cannot receive each other’s estate upon their death. Of course, this will be different if the property or possession in question is in a joint-name. Sole ownership, however, will not be transferred to an unregistered partner through intestacy.
  • Step-relatives are not considered via rules of intestacy. This includes step-children, step-siblings and step-parents.
  • Friends and other non-relatives, including charities and other organisations, will not be included. Rules of intestacy focus very heavily on blood relations.

The sure cure to avoiding any problems for your loved ones is to get professional advice and leave a will.



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