If someone dies without a will.
When a person dies without leaving a valid will, their property (the estate) must be shared out according to rules of intestacy. A person who dies without leaving a will is called an intestate person.
Only married or civil partners and some other close relatives can inherit under the rules of intestacy.
Married partners and civil partners
Married partners or civil partners inherit under the rules of intestacy only if they are actually married or in a civil partnership at the time of death. So if you are divorced or if your civil partnership has been legally ended, you can’t inherit under the rules of intestacy.
Cohabiting partners can’t inherit under the rules of intestacy.
If there are no surviving children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren, the partner will inherit:
all the personal property and belongings of the person who has died and
the whole of the estate with interest from the date of death.
Couples may jointly own their home. There are two different ways of jointly owning a home. These are beneficial joint tenancies and tenancies in common.
If the partners were beneficial joint tenants at the time of the death, when the first partner dies, the surviving partner will automatically inherit the other partner’s share of the property. However, if the partners are tenants in common, the surviving partner does not automatically inherit the other person’s share.
Children. Children of the intestate person will inherit if there is no surviving married or civil partner.
If there is no surviving partner, the children of a person who has died without leaving a will inherit the whole estate.
If there is a surviving partner, a child only inherits from the estate a certain amount.
Grandchildren and great grandchildren
A grandchild or great grandchild cannot inherit from the estate of an intestate person unless either:
their parent or grandparent has died before the intestate person, or
their parent is alive when the intestate person dies but dies before reaching the age of 18 without having married or formed a civil partnership