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Please note this article was edited on 26 July 2023 to reflect that the amount of the statutory legacy increased.
When a person dies without a Will, this can cause considerable problems as they will be considered to have died as an intestate person.
The rules of intestacy only allow married partners, civil partners, or close relatives to inherit from the estate. This means that other persons who may have otherwise inherited, had the deceased individual left a Will, will not be entitled to receive anything.
Here we discuss some of the aspects surrounding contesting probate where there is no Will, including what the rules of intestacy are, the drawbacks of an estate being distributed under the rules of intestacy, whether it’s possible to contest an estate with no Will, what the Inheritance Act is, who can claim and how the final decision is made.
The rules of intestacy allow the families of loved ones who have passed away to still inherit from their estate even where a valid Will was never created.
If the deceased person was married or in a civil partnership at the time of their death, the estate was valued above £322,000, and there are living children, grandchildren or great grandchildren, the spouse or civil partner will inherit the following:
Where there are no surviving children, the spouse or civil partner will inherit the whole estate.
Some other rules of intestacy include:
Other relatives can inherit, but it depends whether there are surviving spouses/civil partners, children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.
One prominent problem with the rules of intestacy is that, even though the deceased individual may have intended to have left their estate with a particular person, if they were not directly related to the deceased, they have no right to inherit. This includes individuals, such as:
Contesting probate with no valid Will can be difficult, as there is no Will to back the claim. However, it isn’t impossible to do so. If you are unhappy with how the estate is due to be distributed under the rules of intestacy, it is possible to contest the estate via a claim on the Inheritance Act.
The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 allows certain individuals to make a claim on the deceased person’s estate where ‘reasonable financial provision’ was not made for them under the terms of the deceased’s Will or under the rules of intestacy.
There are a number of individuals who can make an Inheritance Act claim, including:
While the act does make it possible for certain individuals that are not directly related to the deceased to make a claim on the estate, there are still other persons who are not directly related to the deceased that are unable to inherit even though they may have been in a relationship with the deceased or a close friend.
The court will make the final decision as to whether the rules of intestacy have made reasonable financial provision for the claimant. Some of the considerations they will make include:
If you need support to resolve a contested probate dispute, our contested probate solicitors are on hand to lend their expertise.