Intestacy is the name used to describe the estate of someone who dies without making a Will. If you die without leaving a Will you are said to have died intestate.
The Intestacy Rules
When someone dies without leaving a valid Will, their money, property and possessions (the Estate) must be shared out in accordance to the Intestacy Rules. Only married or civil partners and some other close relatives can inherit under the rules of intestacy.
Where a Will is deemed to be invalid, the deceased’s property and possessions will be shared out in accordance with the Intestacy Rules. This is because the rules of intestacy apply instead of the wishes expressed in the invalid Will.
The Rules of Intestacy will also apply where a valid Will has been left but it only applies to part of the Estate. The part of the Estate to which the valid Will does not apply will be administered as an intestacy.
What do married partners and civil partners inherit?
The married or civil partners of a deceased person will only inherit under the rules of intestacy if they were married or in a civil partnership at the date of death. This means that if you were divorced from the deceased, or if your civil partnership has been legally ended, you will not inherit under the Intestacy Rules.
Married or civil partners who have only separated informally can still inherit under the Intestacy Rules. However, cohabiting partners who were neither married nor in a civil partnership, will not inherit property or possessions under the rules of intestacy.
If there are surviving children, grandchildren or great grandchildren of the person who died and the estate is valued at more than £322,000 the spouse or civil partner will inherit:
- all the deceased’s personal property and belongings, and
- the first £322,000 of the Estate, and
- half of the remaining estate (often known as the residuary estate, which could comprise of a bank account or, for example, an interest in a Limited Liability Partnership registered in England and Wales).
If there are no surviving children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren, the spouse or partner will inherit:
- all the deceased’s personal property and belongings, and
- the whole of the rest of the Estate (often known as the residuary estate, which could comprise of a bank account or, for example, an interest in a Limited Liability Partnership registered in England and Wales).
What will children inherit?
The children of the deceased will only inherit property and possessions if there is no surviving spouse or civil partner. If there is a surviving spouse or civil partner, they will inherit only if the Estate is worth more than £322,000.
What will children inherit if there is no surviving spouse or civil partner?
If there is no surviving spouse or civil partner, the children of the deceased will inherit the whole estate. This rule applies however much the estate is worth. If there are two or more children, the estate will be divided equally between them.
What will children inherit if there is a surviving spouse or civil partner?
If there is a surviving spouse or civil partner, a child only inherits from the Estate if the Estate is valued at over £322,000. If there are two or more children, the children will inherit in equal shares. All the children of the parent who has died inherit equally from the Estate. This also applies where a parent has children from different relationships.
Can step children inherit under Intestacy?
Step children who have been formally adopted by their step parent have the right to inherit under the Rules of Intestacy. Where there has been no formal adoption only biological children will inherit.
What can other close relatives inherit?
Parents, brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews may inherit under the rules of intestacy depending upon:
- whether there is a surviving spouse or civil partner
- whether there are children, grandchildren or great grandchildren.
- in the case of nephews and nieces, whether the parent directly related to the person who has died is also dead
- the amount of the estate
Other relatives may have a right to inherit if the deceased person had no surviving spouse or civil partner, children, grandchildren, great grand-children, parents, brothers, sisters, nephews or nieces. The order of priority amongst other relatives is as follows:-
- uncles and aunts. A cousin can inherit instead if the uncle or aunt who would have inherited died before the intestate person
- half-uncles and half-aunts. A half-cousin can inherit instead if the half-uncle or half-aunt who would have inherited died before the intestate person
Who cannot inherit?
The following people have no right to inherit where someone dies without leaving a will:
- unmarried partners (sometimes wrongly called ‘common-law’ partners)
- same sex partners not in a civil partnership
- relations by marriage
- close friends
How can our intestacy solicitors help you?
When a loved one dies without a Will it can put an unwanted strain on family relationships. A solicitor can talk you through the rules of intestacy, offering sensitive support throughout the process.
The intestacy rules can be complex. At Eric Robinson, our solicitors are experts in intestacy law and estate administration. We’re here to offer family members legal advice they can count on whilst helping managing their deceased’s estate.
If you’d like more information on how our specialists can help please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us using the telephone number 02380 218000. Alternatively, we can receive your enquiry via our dedicated email address Wills@ericrobinson.co.uk
What is the cost of Estate administration?
The exact cost of our Estate Administration service will depend on the individual circumstances of the matter and the level of assistance required. We offer a range of services from taking on full responsibility for administering an Estate to providing advice on a specific issue or dealing with a specific task.
Where we are instructed to manage and process an Estate Administration from start to finish, our charge is based on a fixed fee of 1.9% of the total gross value of the Estate. For example, if the Estate has a value of £350,000, our fee would be £6,650 plus VAT (£1,330). We offer an initial meeting charged at £200 plus VAT (£40) for up to an hour to discuss the Probate process and your requirements. This charged would be waived if we are instructed to act and our fixed fee above is charged.
This service would cover the following:
- Valuing the Estate and ascertaining date of death assets and liability values by contacting the third parties with whom the deceased dealt;
- Assisting and advising on any professional valuations for property, investments, chattels, works of art etc
- Considering and applying all exemptions and reliefs for Inheritance Tax which may apply;
- Completing the relevant HM Revenue and Customs and Inheritance Tax forms;
- Preparing tax calculations and advising on the available options to pay the tax due and any interest implications;
- Liaising with the District Valuer;
- Preparing the relevant application form and Legal Statement for the Grant to be signed by the Executors;
- Submitting the application to a Probate Court and dealing with any queries raised;
- Obtaining the Grant of Probate, advising when it is issued and producing certified copies;
- Arranging payment of any further Inheritance Tax due;
- Paying debts (excluding mortgages);
- Finalising utility bills;
- Identification of items specifically gifted and transferring them into the name of the beneficiary (excluding legal transfer work);
- Paying cash gifts detailed in the Will and obtaining receipts for the Executors as proof of payment;
- Advising on the requirement of Section 27 Trustee Act Notices;
- Discussing with the Executors and beneficiaries the transfer or encashment of holdings in any investment and the Capital Gains Tax and Income Tax implications of such;
- Dealing with Assents of properties to trustees or to beneficiaries;
- Advising on Deeds of Appropriation (if required);
- Collecting all of the Estate assets, including closure of bank accounts;
- Undertaking bankruptcy searches for individual beneficiaries;
- Registering the Estate with HMRC via the Trust Registration Service;
- Preparing Income Tax returns for the Administration period;
- Preparing form R185E;
- Advising on and submitting Corrective Accounts and claims for loss on sale of property/shares;
- Preparing Estate Accounts as an ongoing process;
- Preparing Final Estate Accounts for Executor and beneficiary approval;
- Obtaining formal clearance from HMRC;
- Arranging final payments due to beneficiaries.
Disbursements to be added to this fee:
- Probate application fee of £273
- Land Charges Registry bankruptcy searches (£2 per beneficiary)
- Approximately £82 to post in The London Gazette – Protects against unexpected claims from unknown creditors (not always applied for)
- Approximately £110 to post in a Local Newspaper – This also helps to protect against unexpected claims (not always applied for)
Disbursements are costs related to your matter that are payable to third parties, such as court fees. We handle the payment of the disbursements on your behalf to ensure an efficient process.
Please note that our fixed fee applies to estates with a value of up to £2,000,000, where the deceased was UK domiciled, there are no foreign Wills or assets and this firm is not acting as an Executor. Our fixed fee is subject to a minimum charge of £6,650 plus VAT (£1,330). For us to provide an accurate fee estimate in respect of the Estate, you would need to discuss the specific details with one of our specialists.
How long will this take?
On average, our experience suggests that estates are concluded within 6 to 18 months. Typically:
- Obtaining information to apply for a Grant of Probate takes 8 to 20 weeks;
- The Grant of Probate application typically has a processing time of between 8 to 16 weeks from the point of submission to the Probate Registry;
- The process of collecting in assets and paying liabilities is entirely asset specific although most assets can typically be collected in circa 4 to 28 weeks; and
- Once all assets have been collected and all liabilities paid, final Estate Accounts will be prepared, and once concluded and approved, arrangements will be made for the distribution of assets to the beneficiaries. This final stage normally takes in the order of 4 to 8 weeks.
These timescales are on the basis that:
- There is a valid Will and appointment of Executors;
- There is no claim brought against the Estate;
- Where there is a property to sell it sells within an average time scale;
- The third parties with whom the deceased dealt, correspond within a reasonable timeframe.
Other Fixed Fees Available
Sometimes Executors may wish to instruct us to only obtain a Grant of probate or a Grant of letters of Administration (where there is no Will). We are happy to accept such instructions on the assumption that no inheritance tax is payable. Where all relevant financial information is provided to us by the Personal Representatives we will obtain the Grant for a fixed fee of £2,000 + VAT (£400). This fixed fee covers the following:
- An initial meeting to discuss details of the Estate;
- Consideration of all financial and other information provided;
- Preparation of the Return of Estate Information form (IHT205) (if required) for approval and signature (however, where the estate requires a full Inheritance Tax Account on form IHT400, which is far more complex, our fixed fee will be £3,500 + VAT (£700));
- Where form IHT400 is required, submitting this in advance of the probate application to HM Revenue and Customs;
- Preparing the application for a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration;
- Submitting the application to the Probate Registry;
- Providing the sealed copies of the Grant of Probate to the Personal Representatives.
No other work is included within this fixed fee, leaving you free to obtain all assets, pay all liabilities, settle all taxes due to HMRC and account to the beneficiaries entirely by yourself. Where you do require us to undertake additional work, it will be the subject of an entirely separate and bespoke quotation.
Disbursements with Grant only Fixed Fee Work, will comprise only the Probate application fee of £273 and the cost of any Office Copy Grants you may require at the rate of £1.50 per copy.
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