If you die without making a will, or without a valid will, then your estate will be dealt with according to provisions referred to as the intestacy rules, rather than your wishes.


Dying without a will is often known as dying ‘intestate’. From Latin origins, ‘intestate’ means ‘without testament’ meaning that your money, property, and assets will be divided and distributed by the administrators of your estate according to the intestacy rules.


For many people this will mean that family members could be left out entirely or others could benefit from the estate, without this being the deceased’s intentions.


Below, we can a look at would happen if a person dies without making a valid will.


To my spouse / civil partner…


I hereby leave you some, but probably not all of what I own.


In fact, you may only get to keep assets of up to £270,000.


If you are not married or in a Civil Partnership at the date of death, then you will receive nothing from the deceased unless assets were held jointly and pass by survivorship or have been nominated, for example in the case of life insurance policies. However, if your jointly owned property is held as tenants in common then the surviving partner will not receive your share as it will be dealt with according to the intestacy rules.


If you should die whilst separated from your spouse and you and have not yet divorced or updated an old will, then your spouse is likely to be the main beneficiary of your estate.


To my children…


I hereby leave you the remainder of my estate, which may be subject to inheritance tax.


If you are under the age of eighteen and you have lost both parents, then Social Services may have to step in to choose who will look after you as guardians have not been appointed.


Without advice your estate may be subject to inheritance tax. This will reduce the sum passed on to your children.


Without providing an age condition at which your children will receive their share of your estate, the capital will be given to them at the age of eighteen. Until that date, the people who are responsible for administering your children’s money (otherwise known as Trustees) will have been given this role by the intestacy rules and may not be the people that you would have chosen.


You can confirm in a Will, who you would want to appoint as your children’s guardians. You can ensure that the people appointed are those you trust and have agreed to take on this role.


Making a will, dying without a will, intestate, couple on beach looking ahead

To my family…


I hereby leave you several months of stress and expense whilst you go to unnecessary lengths to tie up my affairs.


I also give you no indication of my personal wishes or how I wish my funeral to be dealt with.




I hereby leave you plenty of additional tax that I could have avoided and given to my family if I had taken the relevant advice.


Avoiding Intestacy Rules


It is possible for families to contest decisions made; however, these claims are likely to incur large legal fees and they can be a lengthy, stressful battle.


It is far easier to avoid the problem by making a will.


A simple, straightforward will is quite affordable, and when written well by a trusted firm of solicitors, should not need re-visiting, unless you encounter major life changes such as divorce.


Making a Will a Priority


Many people in the UK do not have a will in place. It is something that most people know that they should do, but it can quite often stay lingering at the bottom of a ‘to do’ list without working its way to the top.


We have a number of helpful articles on our website to inspire you to get starting on writing your will and hope to be able to help you when you are ready to get your affairs in order.


Whilst considering making a will, it is also important to think about Lasting Powers of Attorney too. Lasting Powers of Attorney or LPAs are a document that can appoint someone to take care of your property and finances or your health and welfare should you lose the mental capacity to make important legal decisions. These are particularly valuable when someone develops dementia but can also be used if someone suffers a brain injury, mental breakdown or is in a coma after an accident.


To start the process, please call 01256 844888 or email enquiries@lambbrooks.com. Alternatively, you can complete a contact form on our website or speak to our live chat assistant, who can take some initial details and arrange for a solicitor to call you back at a convenient time.


Other Articles You May Be Interested in Reading:

When Should You Update Your Will

The Best Way to Express Your Funeral Wishes

How a Lasting Power of Attorney Can Help When Someone is Seriously Ill


The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice.  The law may have changed since this article was published.   Readers should not act on the basis of the information included and should take appropriate professional advice upon their own particular circumstances.