What Happens When Someone Dies Without a Will?

Quick Links

It is estimated that two thirds of people die without making a will. The legal term for this is “intestate”.

People often assume that there is no need to make a will. They believe that their assets will merely pass to those closest to them.  However, this is not always the case.

What you need to know about the intestacy rules

The law says that the deceased’s estate will pass in accordance with the intestacy rules, if:

Intestacy rules set out who is entitled to inherit from the estate.

Who is entitled to my estate under the intestacy rules?

If you are married or in a registered civil partnership, the first person entitled is your spouse or civil partner.  However they may not be entitled to everything.  This depends on the amount in the estate.

If you die intestate with an estate of, say, £400,000, what would happen?  It does depend upon who survives you.   If you have no children then your estate passes to your husband or wife, but if you leave a child then it becomes quite complicated.

Under the intestacy rules your surviving spouse will receive your personal chattels and £250,000.  What is left is divided into two:

Because a trust arises, two Trustees are required and so if the child is an infant, you will probably need to rope in Uncle Fred or cousin Charlie.


Well, if you do not make a Will, it will not.  The surviving spouse or civil partner will take personal chattels and £450,000, and half the remainder.

The other half may go to your parents, or if there are none, to your brothers and sisters, or to nephews and nieces. Remember, this applies:

By not making a Will, you put yourself into the hands of the Intestacy Rules – which most people agree are not very attractive.

What about couples who just live together?

The intestacy rules do not take into account couples who just live together, no matter how long they have been together for.

How is the estate administered?

If someone dies without a Will, a Grant of Letters of Administration is applied for, in order to administer the estate.  The person or people entitled to make the application are normally the closest relatives to the deceased.  Again, the intestacy rules confirm who this would be.

What is the consequence of not having a Will?

If you don’t have a Will, it is possible that:

It is therefore vital that you have a Will in place, however basic, to avoid uncertainty, confusion and delay after your death.

Spratt Endicott Key Statistics

Positive Client Feedback


Specialist Lawyers


Ranked in Legal 500

Top Tier

Recommended Lawyers in Legal 500


Our People

  • David Endicott
  • Consultant
  • 01295 204005
  • Email
  • Emma Eastwood
  • Trainee Solicitor
  • 01295 204055
  • Email
  • Emma Rolfe
  • Associate
  • 01869 222315
  • Email
  • Julia Routen
  • Solicitor
  • 01295 204012
  • Email
  • Lucy Gordon
  • Director, Head of Private Client
  • 01295 204045
  • Email
  • Tom McInerney
  • Senior Associate
  • 01295 204092
  • Email
Liliana Tomasulo
  • Liliana Tomasulo
  • Associate
  • 01295 204144
  • Email

Latest Posts

View All

Getting In Touch

To learn more about how we can help you with your Will, please contact Lucy Gordon or email lgordon@se-law.co.uk