If you do not have a Will, there are rules set out in statute for deciding who inherits your assets, depending on your personal circumstances.
If you are married or in a civil partnership and there are no children
The husband, wife or civil partner will inherit the whole estate.
If you are married or in a civil partnership and there are children
Your husband, wife or civil partner will not automatically inherit everything, although they will receive:
- personal items, such as household articles and cars but nothing used for business purposes;
- £250,000 free of tax, or the whole of the estate if it was less than £250,000; and
- half of the rest of the estate.
The other half of the residue of the estate will be shared by the surviving children.
If you are partners but not married or in a civil partnership
If you are not married or registered civil partners you will only inherit any accounts or investments owned jointly, and any property owned as beneficial joint tenants.
If there is no surviving spouse or civil partner
The estate is distributed as follows:
- to surviving children in equal shares (or to their children if they died while the deceased was still alive);
- if there are no children, to parents (equally, if both alive);
- if there are no surviving parents, to brothers and sisters, or to their children if they died while the deceased was still alive;
- if there are no brothers or sisters then to half brothers or sisters (or to their children if they died while the deceased was still alive);
- if none of the above then to grandparents (equally if more than one);
- if there are no grandparents then to aunts and uncles (or their children);
- if none of the above then to half uncles or aunts (or their children); or
- to the Crown if there are none of the above.
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