Your money, possessions, and property after you have passed is known as your ‘estate’, and without a will the law dictates how it is shared out, this is done in a standard way, which might not be the way you would have wanted.  The standard way is called the ‘law of intestacy’.

The law of intestacy is clear, and it doesn’t take into account your relationships with your family or friends when you were alive. 

There are cases where a parent has had to sue their children to get a share of their partner’s estate.  Or close siblings, and one passes away, and their entire estate passes to their estranged father they’ve not seen for decades, just because they do not have a will in place.

What is ‘Law of Intestacy’?

Intestacy or ‘dying intestate’ is dying without a valid will.  Depending where you live, the laws in Great Britain are different, however there is commonality between them.

Here are some of the main rules that England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have in common. 

  • If unmarried or in a civil partnership, your partner is not legally entitled to anything when you pass away. 
  • If married, or even separated, your spouse tends to inherit most or all your estate (expectations on this in Scotland)
  • How much your children or grandchildren are entitled to will depend on where they live in the UK
  • Inheritance Tax on your property can often be higher without a will 
  • Bona Vacantia law – this applies when you have no will and no close relatives – your entire estate will belong to the Crown or to the government.

By leaving a will you get to decide who your estate goes to and how your estate is shared out.  You can ensure your loved ones, whether family or friends, are looked after financially after you are gone. 

Also Read: Why wills are important