Get familiar with the procedures you’ll need to follow in the event that someone has passed away intestate, which is without a will.

What exactly is a will?

When a person passes away without leaving a will, the estate that they leave behind is distributed according to a set of regulations that are known as intestacy law.

The Inheritance and Trustees’ Power Act outlines the regulations that govern who inherits what depending on their familial relationships. These rules determine who gets what.

The criteria do not take into account the degree of connection between you and the other person or who has the greatest need.

If you want to learn more about the inheritance process in Scotland, head on over to the relevant area of this website.

You have the ability to submit an application to become the administrator of the estate of a close family or friend who passes away without leaving a will. This implies that you will have to determine the value of the estate, pay off any debts, and divide inheritances in accordance with the regulations for intestacy. You can go straight to our section on running an estate to get more information on how everything works.

Do you require assistance in the administration of the estate?

Legal offers a free probate checklist that can help you through the process of administering an estate.
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If a person passes away without leaving a will, a person’s estate will be dispersed according to the laws of intestacy.

The rules will follow a specific sequence while distributing your estate to your relatives, and this order will be determined by which of your relatives you leave behind.

If you are married or have a civil partnership, your spouse or partner will inherit the majority of your fortune. If you are not married, your partner will not inherit anything.

The subsequent instances illustrate how the regulations regarding intestacy are applied in England and Wales.

Who is either married or in a registered domestic relationship AND who has children:

The spouse or civil partner is entitled to keep all of the assets (including property), up to a value of £270,000, as well as all of the personal goods, regardless of how much they are worth.

The remaining assets of the estate will be distributed in the following manner:

The husband, wife, or civil partner receives an absolute stake in fifty percent of the remains, and the remaining fifty percent is distributed equally among the children who are still alive.

In the event that a son, daughter, or other child in which the deceased person had a parental role has already passed away, that child’s children will inherit in place of them.

If you’re married or in a civil partnership but you don’t have any kids:

Their spouse will be the beneficiary of all of their personal belongings as well as the earnings from the estate.

Single and a parent or grandparent of children or grandchildren:

At the age of 18, the children will be entitled to receive the entirety of the income from the estate. In the event that there is more than one child, each child will receive the same amount.

In the event that the kid passes away, the grandchildren or great-grandchildren of the deceased child are eligible to receive their parent’s portion.

Both biological and adopted children are given the same opportunities and responsibilities.

Without a spouse and devoid of children:

The entirety of the estate will be distributed to the surviving relatives in the following order:

Their parents; in the event that both of their parents have passed away, their brothers and sisters (with full siblings taking precedence over half-siblings);
If they do not have any siblings and/or their parents have passed away, then to their grandparents;
If both sets of grandparents have passed away, the inheritance will go to the uncles, aunts, or their offspring.

single with no live relatives to speak of

The entirety of the estate is going to be given to the Crown.

The practise of intestacy in Scotland

The laws regarding what happens when someone dies without a will in Scotland are different from those in England and Wales.

Prior rights are something that are granted to a surviving spouse or civil partner. This includes a share in the family house up to a value of £473,000, provided that the residence is located in Scotland and the partner was living there at the time of their death. Additionally, it covers furniture with a maximum value of £29,000 and other movable goods with a maximum value of either £50,000 (if you have children) or $89,000. (no children).

After this step, whatever is left of the estate will be distributed in accordance with the ‘legal rights,’ which are shared between your spouse and any children, as well as among other members of the immediate family.

In the event that you do not have a spouse, your children will divide your estate. In the event that you do not have a spouse or children, the Succession (Scotland) Act stipulates the manner in which your assets will be divided among the members of your immediate family.

Administering an intestate estate

If a person passes away without leaving a will, an administrator, who is typically the person who is next of kin or a close relative, will be appointed to wind up their estate and distribute their assets.

You’ll need to make an application to the Probate Registry for a “grant of representation” before you can be appointed as the administrator of the estate. The procedure is very similar to the one that executors of wills go through; our guide to the grant of probate explains each stage in detail.

The first step is to determine how much the estate is worth. After that, you will be required to fill out an application for probate as well as the appropriate inheritance tax form. Following this step, you are required to submit your application and take an oath. In addition to that, you will be required to pay the probate cost.

Keep in mind that as an administrator, one of your responsibilities will be to adhere to the norms of intestacy and divide the estate in accordance with the requirements of the law.

In Scotland, a member of the same family who takes on this responsibility is referred to as a “executor-dative.”

In the event that there are no surviving relatives, the administration of the estate will fall within the purview of HM Treasury.

In need of assistance with probate?

Our  Legal makes available for free download a checklist designed to assist you in navigating the procedure.

When does a will become void?

When a person passes away, just because they have a will written down does not necessarily indicate that the will is still in effect.

It is essential to examine wills on a regular basis since certain life events, like as getting married, can nullify a will that has already been written.

In the event that there is a will, but it is determined to be invalid, the estate will be handled as if it were intestate and split according to the principles of intestacy (as above).

Verify that your will is in order and provide instructions on how to write a will

Bona vacantia – unclaimed estates

If a deceased person was not survived by any relatives who could be located, their estate is given to the government. These belongings are referred to as “bona vacantia,” which is Latin for “ownerless things.”

You can search for the estate in question on the government’s list of unclaimed estates if you have reason to suspect that you are eligible for a portion of an estate that is in the possession of the Crown.

If you lodge a claim on a bona vacantia estate within twelve years of the date its administration was finished, you will not only be compensated for your part but also get interest on that portion of the estate.
You have up to thirty years from the date of death to make a claim for your share, but no interest will be paid during that time.

In order to stake a claim, you will need to provide the Bona Vacantia Department (BVD) of the government with a family tree that demonstrates your connection to the decedent. If the BVD has reason to suspect that you are telling the truth, it will ask you for further evidence, which may include a birth certificate and other forms of identification.

The BVD will need to be convinced that, on the whole, you are connected to the person who passed away and are therefore eligible for a portion of their assets.

You will need to make your claim to that other relative instead of the BVD if they have already accepted the claim of one of your other relatives.

The dangers of passing away without leaving a will

If you pass away without leaving a will, the individuals who are closest to you might not inherit from your estate. The following are examples of typical situations:

Even if you live together without being married, your spouse will receive no inheritance from you if you pass away intestate. Either getting married (or entering a civil partnership) or writing a will is the only method to guarantee that your spouse will inherit your estate when you pass away.
Unless you make specific provisions for them in your will, stepchildren and foster children are not eligible to inherit from your estate.
When a person marries in England and Wales, all previous wills are considered null and void. If you do not create a new will, your estate will be distributed according to the provisions that apply in cases of intestacy. This indicates that the majority of your assets will be inherited by your new spouse, with the possibility that your children would receive nothing at all.
The requirements of the people are not taken into consideration by the rules. In the event that the regulations do not permit a dependent individual to receive an inheritance, that person runs the risk of being abandoned.
It is possible that a distant relative or a member of your family with whom you have fallen out would wind up inheriting your estate.

Writing a will allows you to direct what happens to your property when you pass away and ensures that your loved ones get their fair share. In this step-by-step instruction on how to write a will, we cover everything you need to know to get started.