If you die without leaving a valid will, your assets may not be distributed in the way you wish following your death. Instead, they will be distributed according to the UK government’s intestacy laws. Speak to our intestacy solicitors today to learn more and start writing your will to avoid this problem.
If you find yourself in the position where a loved one does not have a will, or has died without arranging their estate, we can advise you on what to do.
Intestacy rules do not make any provisions for unmarried partners or non-family members to receive a share of your inheritance, which may not be in line with your wishes. If you have concerns about dying intestate, our experienced intestacy solicitors can offer advice and support relating to the intestacy rules, giving you clarity on how your estate will be shared.
The team at Percy Hughes & Roberts Solicitors is based in Birkenhead and has served the Wirral, Merseyside and beyond for more than 100 years. We have the experience and knowledge to guide you through any issue relating to intestacy and wills.
Contact our specialist intestacy solicitors today to discuss your circumstances by calling 0151 666 9090, or by filling out an online enquiry form.
How can our intestacy solicitors help you?
Intestacy laws can be complicated, so it is important to get the right legal information and support. Our intestacy solicitors will offer simple, easy-to-understand advice on intestacy rules and what they could mean for your specific circumstances.
At Percy Hughes & Roberts Solicitors, our expert team can assist in various ways:
- Estate administration: we can take on the full administration of the estate, including establishing the value of the estate, settling debts, and distributing the remaining assets according to the laws of intestacy.
- Locating heirs: with our extensive resources and professional connections, we can help trace and identify any entitled relatives.
- Legal advice and representation: we provide clear advice on your rights and obligations under intestacy rules and can act as legal representatives if any disputes or claims arise.
- Deeds of variation: we can advise and assist in arranging Deeds of Variation to change the distribution of the estate if all beneficiaries agree.
- Applying for Letters of Administration: we will guide you through the application process for obtaining Letters of Administration, which is necessary when there is no will.
- Applying for reasonable financial provision: if you were financially dependent on the deceased and do not stand to inherit under the rules of intestacy, you may be able to apply for ‘reasonable financial provision’ from the estate.
We can also help in the event that you should decide now is the right time for you to write a will. This is the best way to avoid the challenges of intestacy and ensure that your estate is distributed according to your wishes.
Why PHR Solicitors?
At Percy Hughes & Roberts, we work tirelessly to deliver the highest standard of support at all times throughout your legal case. This is reflected in the national quality accreditations held by our specialist team, including Lexcel, the Law Society's quality standard.
We have been providing quality, concise legal advice for more than a century, and we are dedicated to helping members of the community we serve.
Our team has a wealth of expertise across the entire spectrum of wills, trusts and probate-related services, allowing us to provide comprehensive support no matter your needs. This means that we can aid you with everything from estate planning and writing a will, right through to probate and distributing assets at the end of the process.
What does 'intestacy' mean?
'Intestacy' is a legal term that refers to the situation where a person dies without having a valid will in place. The estate of the deceased person, including all their possessions, property, and money, must be distributed according to the intestacy laws of the country where the deceased lived.
In the UK, these rules are laid out in the Administration of Estates Act 1925 and the Intestacy and Family Provision Claims on Death Act 1975. These laws determine who is entitled to inherit from the deceased's estate and in what proportions.
What are the intestacy rules affecting my estate?
If you are married or in a civil partnership and you do not have children, your spouse or civil partner will inherit your estate, provided they survive you for 28 days.
If you are married or in a civil partnership and have children, and your spouse or civil partner survives you for 28 days, they will receive:
- Your personal items
- The first £322,000 of your estate outright as a legacy
- Half of the remainder (known as your residuary estate)
The other half of your residuary estate will be divided equally between your issue and held as ‘statutory trusts’ for them until they turn 18.
If you are not married and not in a civil partnership, your estate will pass to the following individuals in priority order:
- Your children or grandchildren
- Your parents
- Your siblings of whole blood (or their children)
- Any half-siblings or their children
- Your grandparents
- Your uncles and aunties of whole blood (or their children)
- Your uncles and aunties of half-blood, or their children
- The Crown
Intestacy rules do not allow for unmarried or ‘common law’ partners to inherit. If you are separated from your spouse or civil partner, they will still inherit provided you remain legally married. Even if you have made your wishes clear to your family, they may not be honoured if you do not have a legal will in place.
Are all my assets subject to intestacy rules?
Some items are not included in intestacy rules. These include:
- Property, such as real estate or bank accounts, owned as a joint tenant - this will pass automatically to the surviving joint owner
- A life policy or pension scheme with a nominated beneficiary - any payment will pass on to the beneficiary
- Life interest held under a trust - this will pass in accordance with the trust
Are there exceptions to intestacy rules?
Intestacy rules in the UK are generally stringent. However, there are limited circumstances where exceptions might apply. These could include situations where:
- No relatives can be traced: in these cases, the estate will pass to the Crown under the 'Bona Vacantia' rules.
- The deceased person lived abroad: different laws might apply depending on the location of the deceased's permanent home and where their assets are located.
- Exceptional property or assets are included: some types of joint property, insurance policies, and pensions may not be governed by the rules of intestacy.
It should be noted that these exceptions can be complex and the specifics often depend on individual circumstances. Therefore, it is always advisable to seek professional legal advice to fully understand the implications and potential options.
How long does intestacy take?
The length of time required to resolve an intestacy case can vary greatly depending on the complexity of the estate, the number of beneficiaries, whether there are any disputes, and other factors. On average, it can take anywhere from several months to a couple of years.
Some aspects that can influence the duration of intestacy include:
- Estate size and complexity: a larger intestate estate with more assets can take longer to administer due to the need for more detailed assessments and potentially complex tax considerations.
- Locating beneficiaries: if it is difficult to trace or identify beneficiaries, this can extend the process.
- Disputes: if any disputes arise among beneficiaries about the distribution of the estate, resolution of these issues can delay proceedings.
- Outstanding debts: the estate cannot be fully distributed until all debts and taxes have been paid, which can add time if these are not promptly settled.
Having the support of experienced intestacy, wills and probate solicitors like those at PHR Solicitors can significantly streamline the process and ensure all matters are handled professionally and efficiently.
Why is it important to seek help from an intestacy solicitor?
An intestacy solicitor can provide clear advice that is tailored to your situation, and help you understand your legal requirements and obligations. Administering an estate involves numerous steps, from calculating the estate's value and settling any debts, to distributing assets among beneficiaries. Failure to meet your legal obligations can lead to complications, delay the process and, in the most serious cases, result in legal consequences. An intestacy solicitor can handle these tasks swiftly and correctly, saving you valuable time.
Disputes can arise during the administration of an estate, especially if there are multiple beneficiaries. An intestacy solicitor can help prevent conflicts by ensuring clear communication and fair processes as an unbiased third party. Should a dispute occur, they can provide legal representation and work towards a resolution.
How we can help
There can be many complications when managing and administering an intestate estate and maintaining compliance with intestacy laws, which is why it’s important to get the right legal information and support. Our team of expert intestacy solicitors can help advise you on all of these rules, and what they could mean for you; if you decide you want to plan your estate and write a will, our specialists can guide you through this process too to avoid the difficulties of intestacy.
If you want more information on intestacy rules, planning a will or any other matter relating to your estate, call Percy Hughes & Roberts Solicitors today on 0151 666 9090. Alternatively, you can fill out an online enquiry form, and we will be in touch at a convenient time for you.