What happens if I die without a Will?

Practical guide to the rules of intestacy and implications of not making a Will

If you die without having made a Will (known as 'dying intestate') the State will decide what happens to all your assets (your property, belongings and money) in accordance with what are known as 'intestacy rules'. These rules determine which of your living relatives will be the beneficiaries (i.e. inherit your assets) in order of their relationship to you.

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If you are married or in a civil partnership when you die, your spouse/civil partner will have priority and be the main beneficiary of your estate as long as they survive you by 28 days. However, if you are not married/in a civil partnership or have no surviving spouse/civil partner, the order of priority to inherit your assets will broadly be:

  • Your children (or any children of a child of yours that died before you), but if no children;
  • Your parents, but if neither of your parents is alive;
  • Your brothers and sisters (or any children of a brother or sister that died before you), but if you have none;
  • Your half-brothers and -sisters (or any children of a half-brother or -sister that died before you), but if you have none;
  • Your grandparents, but if neither grandparent is alive;
  • Your uncles and aunts (or any children of an uncle or aunt that died before you), but if you have none;
  • Your half-uncles and -aunts (or any children of a half-uncle or -aunt that died before you), but if you have none:
  • The State

Dying without a Will means there are no clear instructions about how you want your assets to be distributed, which can make things difficult for your surviving family. Making a Will today and regularly updating it will ensure your loved ones are provided for in line with your wishes.

The information on this page applies to England and Wales only.

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