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Who can inherit if there is no will?

If you pass away without leaving a will there is a strict set of rules for deciding how your property is shared out. These are known as the rules of intestacy and only married or civil partners and some other close relatives can inherit under these rules.

The rules of intestacy

In England and Wales the rules of intestacy were updated as recently as October 2014. Now,  irrespective of what your intentions were, your property will be divided according to this fixed set of rules. These rules don’t take into consideration unmarried and unregistered partners, and due to this, the surviving partner will not automatically inherit any property or possessions.

Important: If you make a will but it is not legally valid, this does not count and your wishes expressed in the will will be disregarded and the rules of intestacy will decide how everything is shared. To learn more about our will services, please click here.

Who can inherit?

Married or civil partner

First of all your partner can only inherit if you are both still legally and officially married, or in a civil partnership at the time of death. If divorced, they cannot inherit.

If the marriage or civil partnership is still legal, then your partner will inherit as follows:


If there are surviving children or grandchildren the partner will inherit: If there are no surviving children or grand children the partner will inherit:
All of your personal property and belongings All of your personal property and belongings
The first £250,000 of the estate The whole of the estate with interest from the date of death
Half of the remaining estate



If there is no surviving spouse the children will inherit: If there is a surviving spouse then the children will inherit:
The whole estate, no matter how much it is worth If the estate is valued over £250,000
If there are two or more children the estate will be divided equally They will inherit one half of the value of the estate above £250,000
If is more than one child the estate will be divided equally.


If you are not married to your partner but you do have a child, then the child or children can inherit if you are to die intestate (to die having not made a will).

When it comes to grandchildren or great grandchildren, the only way they can inherit is if their parent or grandparent has died before the intestate person and they have become the closest surviving relative.

Other close relatives such as parents, brothers and sisters etc may inherit but only if there is no surviving married or civil partner, no surviving children and it also depends on the amount of the estate.

Who can’t inherit?

There are people that have no right to inherit anything if you die intestate:

  • Unmarried partners, or partners not in a civil partnership
  • Relations by marriage
  • Close friends
  • Carers

If you would want any of the persons above to inherit it is strongly advised that you make sure you have made a legal will before you die.

What happens if there are no surviving relatives?

If you have no will and there are absolutely no surviving relatives then your entire estate will go to the Crown. The treasury solicitor then becomes responsible for dealing with the estate.

Avoid leaving your spouse or children in this situation and prepare your will now. We know it can be daunting but here at Flackwood Solicitors we can help. Get in touch for more information and advice.

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