Dying Intestate and How It Effects Those Left Behind

Thursday 25th June 2015

What does dying intestate mean?

There is no record of the deceased having made a Will or at least a Will that is valid. In such an event, the Estate is dealt with under the provisions of the Administration of Estates Act 1925 as subsequently amended.

If there is a Will in place - make sure it's valid!

If a Will is made, it must comply with the strict requirements of the Provision of Wills Act 1837 amended by the Administration of Justice Act 1982. A Will shall not be valid unless it covers the following criteria:

It is in writing and signed by the Testator or by some other person in his or her presence and by his or her direction.

It appears that the Testator intended by his or her signature to give effect to the Will.

The signature is made or acknowledged by the Testator in the presence of two or more witnesses present at the same time.

Each witness either must attest and sign the Will or acknowledge his signature or her signature in the presence of the Testator.

A person who has a benefit under the Will must not be a witness nor should his or her spouse.

It is strongly recommended that witnesses are totally independent from anyone mentioned in the Will or connected with the Will.

Invalid Wills where Wills did not meet the required standard as mentioned above, adds to the figures of people who died intestate. Recent stats show only three in ten people have Wills in place and that £53m was gained by the treasury last year from people who died intestate.

Why is it important to have a Will for you and your family?

The importance here is not to allow one's self to pass away without having made a valid Will. This not only saves one's family a lot of stress during an obviously unfortunate time, but gives peace of mind as the wishes of that person are carried out within the capacity of the Will.

Please look at the Intestacy Rules 2015 as a guidance.

Everyone can make a Will over the age of 18 in England & Wales. For example, you could be:

Married or in A Civil Partnership with Children
Married or in A Civil Partnership without Children
Not Married, with Relations or no Relations at All
Examples of events should you die Intestate

When a husband or wife, who have children, die intestate, the surviving partner is entitled to all the personal chattels of the deceased (this does not include money or securities for money). The spouse will then receive a fixed sum (which is currently the first £250,000 as from the 1st February 2009) plus interest on it at a rate of 6% from the date of death until the date of payment. The spouse will also receive a life interest in half of the estate. The remainder goes to the children in equal shares (in trust if they are minors). On the surviving spouses death, the fund from which the spouse was receiving the income goes to the children upon them having attained the age of eighteen years.

Where a married person dies intestate leaving a spouse and no child but other relatives, the estate is distributed as follows:
The spouse receives all the personal chattels.
The spouse will also receive a fixed sum (which is currently up to £450,000 as from the 1st February 2009). The remainder is divided into two, the surviving spouse take one half absolutely and the other half is divided between the deceased's relatives according to the law. However, the surviving spouse has personal rights under the Act that should be clarified further by a qualified person in this field of expertise.