What is intestacy?

To understand what intestacy is, it is useful firstly to understand when it occurs.

The situations in which an intestacy can occur are when the deceased: (a) did not make a will, (b) revoked a will, without making a new one or (c) made a will which was invalid.

The most common result of (a) – (c) above is something called a ‘total intestacy’. This is when someone dies without having leaving a will. However, there is also something called ‘partial intestacy’. This is when the deceased did not fully dispose of his or her estate. This may, for example, happen if the residue of the estate is left to someone who has predeceased the deceased. Once it is clear that there will be an intestate estate, the intestacy rules apply. The intestacy rules set out who is entitled to the estate.

The intestacy rules are by no means the solution to the problem of an intestate estate, however. This is because the rules are generally not well known or understood by the public. In many cases, it is wrongly assumed that a cohabitant has an entitlement under the intestacy rules. This is not the case. Misunderstandings like this can have dramatic consequences.

By way of an (extremely) brief summary of who benefits under the intestacy rules, the starting point is whether the deceased had a surviving spouse or civil partner. If they did, then there is one ‘route’ to follow, and if they did not then there is another. The explanation of these routes, and how to navigate them, is beyond the scope of this article. However, it is something that we can advise you on at Barrett & Co.

As you may have gathered from this article, intestacy is a complicated process. Unfortunately, that means it is often costly, lengthy and difficult to navigate. This is why we always recommend that you instruct an experienced solicitor to draft your will and to advise you on the same. At Barrett & Co, our probate department are experts on will drafting and we have a team of experienced professionals who can assist.

If you are in the unfortunate position of already being in a dispute over an intestate estate, then our contentious probate team can also help you. At Barrett & Co, we are experienced in both contentious and non-contentious private client matters. Whatever your situation is in relation to an intestate estate, we have the experience to deal with it.

Please contact us if you would like to discuss an issue further. You can call 0118 958 9711 or email info@barrettandco.co.uk and mark the subject as “intestacy”.

Further reading

Contentious Probate

Contentious Probate – Surely my Will is concrete and cannot be challenged?

Do I need a Will?

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