What is an intestate estate?

    What is an intestate estate?

    Robyn Greenway, a Senior Legal Advisor in our Private Client Team in Wellington often deals with a large number of intestate estates, and knows these can be complex and time consuming. Whether the net estate is large or small it is frustrating to think that if only the deceased had made a Will not only would their estate have had clear purpose but a considerable amount of time and money could have been saved. In this blog, Robyn explains what an intestate estate is and the importance of making a Will. 

    What is an intestate estate?

    An intestate estate could be your estate if you don’t make a Will!

    Making a Will should be as routine as renewing your driving license. Sadly, all too often it is put to the back of the ‘to do list’, something that we don’t want to think about, at least until we have to, and could that then be too late?

    So often we hear phrases such as, ‘I don’t have any children, or I don’t have significant assets.’ A Will is merely a legal statement that coordinates the distribution of your assets after death and can also be used to appoint legal guardians of your children. If you don’t make a Will when you die your estate will be intestate.

    What might this mean and what questions do I need answered?

    1. Does the deceased have a living spouse (husband or wife or civil partner)?

    Under the laws of intestacy on or after July 2023 and if there are no children the surviving spouse/civil partner will inherit the entire estate and will be entitled to apply for probate. 

    1. What is probate?

    If the deceased did not leave a Will the spouse will be entitled to apply for probate as the Administrator of the estate. This will involve an application for a Grant of Letters of Administration. The application will require an estimate of the value of the estate of the person that died.

    1. Does the spouse have to apply?

    As the person entitled to the estate you don’t have to administer the estate. You could appoint an attorney and often a solicitor will do this on your behalf.

    1. What happens if the deceased left children?

    If the estate is worth up to £322,000 the husband, wife or civil partner will be entitled to the whole estate. If the estate is worth over £322,000 the estate will be divided as follows:-

    • The spouse or civil partner will receive up to £322,000 and half of the remainder of the estate.
    • The spouse or civil partner will receive all the personal possessions.
    1. Do the children share the remainder of the estate in equal shares?

    The children of the deceased are entitled to a share of the half of the estate above £322,000. This half must be divided equally between the surviving children and is irrespective of their age i.e. the eldest child will receive the same share as the youngest child. Despite the laws of the past, inheritance does not pass down the ‘male’ line! Inheritance does not favour sex or age in modern times!

    1. What happens if any of the children die before their parent?

    If any of the deceased children died before them and they have surviving children (grandchildren of the deceased), these children (the grandchildren) will inherit in their place.

    1. What happens if the spouse or the children, or grandchildren who were entitled to inherit die after the deceased?

    Their own estate will inherit their share.

    An intestate estate can be complicated. Especially where there is no surviving spouse or children. The best way to avoid this complication is to make a Will. It need not be complex document but it will give clear legal instructions to your appointed Executors about how to distribute your estate. This can save a lot of time and money and ultimately means that your estate will be left to your chosen beneficiaries. Your beneficiaries may not be a person or persons but a charity or charities and will mean that everything you have worked so hard for in your lifetime has meaning and purpose.

    Think of your Will as just a simple document to ensure that your property and assets (no matter how small) pass as you would wish. It need not be expensive or complicated, but we are here to give advice and assistance. Often there are other factors that will be important for you to consider such as Inheritance Tax planning or it may be that you would like to leave assets in Trust so that young or vulnerable beneficiaries can be provided for in the future.

    We can help you

    Our experienced team of probate solicitors can help you in various ways to prepare and ensure that you and the people in your life are protected and provided for. Whatever your requirements Porter Dodson are here to help. Please contact Robyn in our Private Client Team on 01823 666622.


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