The question of “Who inherits when there is no valid will?” is one we frequently get asked.
Articles on the rules of intestacy always generate interest. Whether it is people wanting to understand more about them and the potential impact on their own lives, or as part of their professional role, it’s a subject seemingly still shrouded in a little mystery.
Intestacy is when someone dies without a valid will being in place. The rules of intestacy are effectively a pre-defined order of who is entitled to inherit. The rules also cover instances of partial intestacy where a valid will does not deal with all the deceased’s estate.
And it’s not just from those working in the Private Client world, either. In a video published earlier this year on the Today’s Wills and Probate website on the topic, we were struck by the engagement levels from other areas of law outside of Probate, such as Conveyancing and Family Law. Whilst it’s perhaps natural to consider it as just a probate-related matter, actually the rules of intestacy can have an impact in these other worlds, too.
It’s worth remembering that the term ‘blended family’ is not recognised under the rules of intestacy. Whilst fully adopted children are recognised, foster children and stepchildren are not (unless they have been adopted in by their stepparent).
Perhaps most infamously, the rules make no allowance for cohabiting couples who are not married or in a civil partnership i.e. often (and incorrectly) referred to as “Common Law spouse”. This can turn out to be particularly troublesome, given that the cohabiting couple is the fastest growing living arrangement in England and Wales.
In short, the rules of intestacy can be something of a legal minefield and that’s why we created our Rules of Intestacy flowchart which we hope you will find useful.
If you require any further assistance around the rules of intestacy please view our dedicated web page on the topic or just get in contact as we’d be happy to help.
This article was submitted to be published by Anglia Research as part of their advertising agreement with Today’s Wills and Probate. The views expressed in this article are those of the submitter and not those of Today’s Wills and Probate.