Property Division When There is No Will

There are people who assume that they really don’t need to take the time to draw up a will or engage in any other form of estate planning, and their reasons for feeling this way varied. One very common assertion that many people make is that inheritance planning is unnecessary for them because they don’t have significant assets to distribute. You should contact Law Offices of Kenneth Carp to get legal advice in case there is no biding documents related to inheritance.

So, what is meant by the term ‘intestacy’?

Intestacy means that an individual has died without leaving a Will, or the Will of the deceased is invalid, e.g. it was not witnessed or the Will was revoked prior to death.

Just what transpires where there is an intestacy situation?

If a person passes away without a Will it means the intestacy legislation sets out who may deal with the deceased person’s money, possessions as well as their property (their “estate”), and who receives what from the estate.

Who should handle the deceased person’s estate where there isn’t a Will?

The legislation sets out a ‘pecking order’ who should manage a deceased individual’s estate where there is no Will. The pecking order is:

The husband, wife or registered civil partner of the deceased individual. Please note this does not extend to unmarried/common law partners.

  1. Children of the deceased individual.
  2. ‘Grandchildren.
  3. The parents of the deceased.
  4. The brothers and sisters of the whole blood (they have both parents in common) of the deceased.
  5. The children of brothers and sisters of the whole blood of the deceased (i.e. nieces/nephews).
  6. The brothers and sisters of the half blood (they have just one parent in common) of the deceased.
  7. The children of brothers and sisters of the half blood of the deceased.
  8. The grandparents of the deceased.
  9. The uncles and aunts of the whole blood of the deceased.
  10. Children of uncles and aunts of the whole blood of the deceased (i.e. cousins).
  11. The uncles and aunts of the half blood of the deceased.
  12. Children of uncles and aunts of the half blood of the deceased.

Who inherits from the estate?

The intestacy rules state who inherits what from the deceased person’s estate. It is essential that the deceased person’s money and assets are paid out in accordance with the Intestacy Rules. To do otherwise would be a breach of the law. A brief overview of the order of priority of the Intestacy Rules is as follows:

The husband, wife or registered civil partner of the deceased (but NOT their unmarried partner or ‘common law’ partner).

  1. The deceased’s children (or grandchildren where the child has already died).
  2. The deceased’s parents.
  3. The deceased’s brothers or sisters (or their descendants if they have already died).
  4. The deceased’s half brothers or sisters, (or their descendants if they have already died).
  5. The deceased’s grandparents.
  6. The deceased’s Uncles & Aunts, (or their descendants if they have already died).

What is required to deal with the deceased individual’s money, property and possessions?

If the deceased person owned assets in their sole name worth more than £5000, the next of kin will need to obtain something called a grant of ‘Letters of Administration’, which is arranged through the Probate Registry. The title is slightly misleading in that a grant of Letters of Administration is actually a court order rather than “letters” in the common use of the word.

A grant of Letters of Administration is not required to deal with any jointly owned assets, for example a joint bank account.

Letters of Administration can be obtained directly by the next of kin by completing the probate forms and applying directly to the Probate Registry. It isn’t necessary to use a solicitor, unless the deceased person’s estate is complicated or of a very high value.

Anyone who dies without a will is invariably making things quite a bit harder on their loved ones due to the realities of intestacy laws. And even if you are young, accidents do happen. If you don’t have a lot of assets to distribute, just about everyone has possession that have sentimental value at the very least. Investing the time it takes to draw up a will is well worth the effort, and it is in a very real sense a responsibility that each one of us has to our loved ones.