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14 September 2016 | Comment | Article by Matthew Evans

A Brief Guide to Intestacy

According to a recent YouGov survey, nearly two thirds of the adult population of the United Kingdom do not have a will. The importance of having a will cannot be understated. Where a person has not made a will they die “intestate” and strict rules set out who inherits.

There is therefore a danger that by not writing a will your personal property and possessions could pass to someone you hadn’t intended to benefit.

What is “Intestacy” and how will my estate be distributed?

As discussed above, intestacy arises when an individual dies without leaving a valid will or where a will does not dispose of all of a person’s assets, for instance if it fails to have a clause dealing with the “residuary estate”. In England and Wales the statutory rules which govern intestate estates are set out in the Administration of Estates Act 1925 and were amended in the Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014. It is important to note that the rules vary depending on which family survives you.

The rules of intestacy are helpfully set out in our flowchart.

Whilst the intestacy rules provide some assurance, therefore, that your estate will be distributed between your family, they do not take into account any factors like your relationship with these family members. There is also no provision for close friends, carers or charities.

How do I protect my estate from passing on intestacy?

The simplest way of ensuring that your estate is protected from intestacy is to prepare and have in place a legally binding will which deals with your entire estate.

As intestacy can arise from losing an original will, it is also crucial to ensure that you keep your will in a safe place with a record of its location.

If you require further advice on intestacy or making provision for your estate, please contact our wills team.

Author bio

Matthew Evans


Matthew is a partner and heads up the firm’s private wealth offering. He is responsible for the development, implementation and long-term strategy of the team.

Matthew has a UK-wide reputation in the field of contentious probate, recognised by his clients and peers in the leading legal directories.

Disclaimer: The information on the Hugh James website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact the blog author.


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