If a person dies without making a Will they die Intestate.

In these circumstances the Rules of Intestacy apply. These rules set out a priority for those who will benefit from the estate of the deceased. For example, if the deceased was married and died leaving a surviving spouse then his spouse would take all.

However, if he died leaving a surviving spouse and children then the surviving spouse takes a cash sum of up to £250,000 and a life interest in 50% of the remainder of the estate. The other 50% of the estate passes to the surviving children equally.

If the child died without siblings then the estate would pass to the first surviving parent. However, the more distant the relatives the more complicated the rules become.

There is also the operation of the Inheritance (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1975 as amended whereby certain persons can make a claim on the deceased’s estate (whether he made a Will or not) provided that certain criteria are met.

In the case of Intestacy if this criteria is met it may enable more distant relatives to make a claim which the Intestacy Rules would otherwise prevent.

If one dies without making a Will there are also provisions as to whom can apply for Letters of Administration. It is also advisable to consider instructing a genealogical tracing company to prepare a full family tree to ensure all beneficiaries are identified. This will also enable missing beneficiary insurance to be obtained.

In all circumstances were the deceased died intestate proper enquiries should be made to ascertain whether in fact a Will is in existence.
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