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You’re not alone if you don’t have a will, 53% of adults in the UK don’t have one, but you may want to consider getting one if you would like to choose how to dispose of your property and belongings, rather than letting the state decide after you die. If you don’t make a will, your estate will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy.

The rules of intestacy

In England and Wales, a set of statutory rules apply and are enforced if you die intestate (without having a will in place.) Your estate would be divided according to this fixed set of rules, regardless of what your plans were, and that means your estate might not be divided in the way that you wanted.

I’m single with no children, why does making a will matter?

If you have wishes or plans for how you want your estate to be divided or passed on, then you need to have a will. Intestacy laws don’t permit inheritances to friends, charities or other loved ones that are not direct family members. Even if you are happy to distribute your property, money and assets in the order of blood relatives that the rules dictate, they don’t cover leaving a specific item or amount to a certain person or organisation, so you couldn’t leave a personal gift or trust fund for a special niece or nephew if you had other surviving relatives higher up the pecking order.

If you have any pets you might want to consider them. If your surviving family couldn’t take over the burden of an animal who outlives you, it’s sensible to make arrangements for this in your will, so that your pet has a guaranteed home and someone to care for them.

Who would not receive an inheritance?

  • Friends, including those who may have helped care for you during your lifetime
  • Partners (unmarried or not in a civil partnership)- the intestacy rules do not recognise “common law” partners
  • Relations via marriage

You may consider these people like your family, but if you die intestate they will not inherit any of your estates, no matter what your intentions were.

I have no will and no surviving blood relatives or descendants, what will happen to my estate?

Without a will in this scenario, your entire estate would go to the Crown (the government), or if the assets are located in Cornwall or Lancashire then to the Duchy of Cornwall and the Duchy of Lancaster respectively.

Can intestacy rules be challenged?

There is no simple answer because this is such a complex area and there are other laws that can apply in certain scenario’s. You should seek legal advice if you need assistance within this area.

How can I protect my estate?

To make sure that your estate is handled exactly the way you want and is not left down to intestacy is simple; just make sure you have a binding will in place before you die. You can do this at any point in your life, and the process is often much simpler than you think.

If you would like to speak to Tasoula or a member of our team about planning for your future and making a Will, contact the Wills, Trusts and Probate team on 0161 930 5151, email or fill in our online contact form and we will get back in touch for a confidential discussion.