Intestacy is a legal term that describes the situation that arises when a person dies without leaving a valid will. In the United Kingdom, intestacy can have significant implications for the distribution of the deceased person’s assets, as well as for their surviving family members. In this article, we will explore the key aspects of inheritance in the UK, including how it affects the distribution of assets, who is entitled to inherit, and what steps can be taken to avoid it.
Intestacy Rules in the UK
The distribution of assets in the case of intestacy in the United Kingdom is governed by a series of rules known as the Intestacy Rules. The Administration of Estates Act of 1925 established these rules, which have been changed several times since then. The regulations apply to any fatalities occurring on or after October 1, 2014.
The distribution of assets under the Intestacy Rules is determined by several factors, including the value of the estate, the number of living family members, and their relationships. The guidelines also consider whether the deceased was married or in a civil relationship when they died.
If the deceased was married or in a civil partnership, the rules provide that their surviving spouse or civil partner will inherit the majority of the estate. The exact amount will depend on the size of the estate and whether the deceased had any children or other surviving relatives.
If the deceased was not married or in a civil partnership, their assets will be distributed among their surviving relatives according to a strict order of priority. The first priority is given to the deceased’s children or their descendants, followed by their parents, siblings, and then more distant relatives. If no living relatives can be found, the estate will pass to the Crown.
Implications of Intestacy
Intestacy can have several consequences on the distribution of assets and the surviving family members of the deceased person. One of the most serious consequences is that assets may be allocated in ways that the deceased did not desire. For example, if the deceased had a close friend or relative who wanted to receive a portion of their fortune but did not make a will, that individual may be barred from receiving anything under the Intestacy Regulations.
In addition to this, intestacy can also cause delays and additional costs in the administration of the estate. Without a valid will, the process of identifying and locating all of the deceased person’s assets can be more complicated, and disputes may arise between family members over the distribution of the assets.
The best way to avoid intestacy is to make a valid will. This allows the individual to specify exactly how they want their assets to be distributed after their death and can help to prevent disputes between family members. Making a will is a relatively simple process and can be done with the help of a solicitor or through an online will-writing service.
It is important to note that certain types of assets, such as jointly owned property or assets held in a trust, may not be covered by a will. These assets will pass to the surviving owner or trustee regardless of what is specified in the will. It is therefore important to ensure that all assets are properly accounted for when making a will.
In some cases, it may also be possible to use other legal arrangements to avoid intestacy. For example, setting up a trust can help to ensure that assets are passed on to specific beneficiaries in a tax-efficient manner. Similarly, making lifetime gifts can help to reduce the size of the estate and minimise the amount of inheritance tax that is payable.
Intestacy can have significant implications for the distribution of assets and the deceased person’s surviving family members. It is therefore important to take steps to ensure that a valid will is in place or to use other legal arrangements to ensure that assets are passed on following the individual’s wishes. By doing so, the individual can help to ensure that their loved ones are properly provided for and that their assets are distributed in a way that reflects their wishes.
Van Eaton solicitors in Streatham can assist you in assessing your claim and gathering the necessary evidence to strengthen your case. We can assist you in resolving civil disputes by utilising alternative dispute resolution to avoid the case going to court, saving you money on solicitors and court fees. If you would like to find out more about our services, or you would like to talk about your probate disputes in a consultation, you can fill out our online form here. Alternatively, you can give us a call at 0208 769 6739.