Fixed Probate Fees, call:

0800 612 6105

Alternatively local rate:

0203 985 9554

What Does ‘Dying Intestate’ Mean?

As we grow older, we realise that life is made up of a succession of rules which, when followed, make for a harmonious, happy, and uncomplicated existence. Death is just as regulated. Or, more specifically, there are rules when it comes to a person’s estate after death. Sometimes these rules are easy to follow, simple to adhere to, and cause no problems at all.

Sometimes, however, there are certain issues that arise, and one of these occurs every time a person dies ‘intestate’. Dying intestate means dying without having made a will; it really is that simple, and that complicated. Due to the many and varied paths that need to be followed to ensure that the correct person ends up with the correct portion of the deceased’s estate, it can take many months, if not longer, to complete probate in these circumstances.

There are cases in which the deceased person may indeed have made a will, but it is not considered valid. A valid will must have been made by a person who is over eighteen, it must not have been made under any kind of duress, it must have been made by someone of sound mind, it must be in writing, and it must have been witnessed by two independent people. If any of these points are found to be in dispute, then the will becomes invalid, and the person who has died is found to have died interstate.

When this happens, there are certain rules that need to be followed in order to ensure that the deceased person’s estate is given to the correct person. It is not just a case of finding the nearest relative and allowing them to inherit everything at once.

The first people to look at are the spouse or civil partner of the deceased. This includes those who were separated (but not divorced) from the deceased at the time of his or her death. They can inherit up to £250,000, plus all possessions.

If there is no spouse or civil partner, or if the estate is worth more than £250,000, then the children of the deceased person are next in line, and the estate is split equally between them.

If there are no children, and the estate is worth more than £250,000, then the deceased person’s surviving parents stand to inherit the balance. If there are no surviving parents, siblings are looked at, and again, if there are none, nieces and nephews. If this still yields no one to inherit, then the search is expanded to include grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins… All family members are checked (including half relations) in a specific order, and once a surviving family member is discovered, they are due to inherit the estate of the deceased.

Or, if no one can be found to inherit the estate, the money and possessions – whatever is left after funeral expenses – must instead go to the Crown. This is called ‘bona vacantia’.

We know that the process of intestacy is complicated and can be confusing. That’s why the experts at are the perfect people to talk to about any aspect of the chain that you need to have clarified. Just contact us, ask your question, and be sure of an answer that will make sense.

2 Responses to What Does ‘Dying Intestate’ Mean?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Call us today on:

0800 612 6105

Or on local rate:

0203 985 9554


Alternatively email: