What happens if both parents die without a Will?

If a person dies without a Will their property (referred to as their estate) must be shared out in line with the rules of intestacy.

The only way to ensure your money and property is shared out according to your wishes is to have a correctly drawn up Will. Hepburn Delaney’s specialist Wills and Probate department can offer expert advice and draw up a legally binding Will; you can find details of our services here.

Who inherits when there is no Will?

If a person dies with Children intestate, then the rules say that only a spouse/civil partner or their child(ren) – or their children if they are deceased – can inherit the estate.  People who are living together but not married or in a civil partnership will not inherit if a person dies intestate.  Although, they may be able to bring a claim against the estate as a ‘’dependant’’.

Where someone is married or in a civil partnership and there are surviving children, grandchildren or great grandchildren, in this case the spouse or civil partner will inherit all the personal property and belongings of the deceased, the first £250,000 of the estate and half of anything remaining over the £250,000. If there is a surviving partner, then the children will only inherit if the total cost of the estate is over £250,000. The children will inherit half of the remainder of the estate, after the £250,000. If there is more than one child that amount will be shared equally between the children; this includes children from different relationships.  If there is no spouse or civil partner the children will inherit the whole estate, however much it is

It is very important to remember that if you jointly own property or bank accounts, these will pass automatically to the other joint owner regardless of the rules of intestacy or indeed the provisions of a Will.

The potential consequences for children if both parents die without a Will

For example, Amy is married to Bob, Amy has two children, Claire and Daniel. Bob is not their father. If she dies she would like Claire and Daniel to receive all of her estate, and for Bob to receive her car and jewellery. Unfortunately, she did not make a Will. When she dies Amy’s estate is valued at £350,000. Bob will receive £300,000 (the first £250,000 plus half of the remainder – £50,000). Claire and Daniel will receive £25,000 each (the amount over £250,000 halved and then shared equally). As you can see this is far from the arrangement Amy had hoped for. This could have been avoided if she had made a Will.

Children do not receive their inheritance immediately. They will receive it when they reach the age of 18, or if they marry prior to reaching 18.

Making a Will to protect children

If your estate is valued at less than £250,000 and you are married or in a civil partnership, your children will not receive anything from your estate if you die intestate. If you want your children to inherit some of your estate, it is important that you make a Will so that your wishes can be followed.

If you need help and advice regarding a family member’s intestacy, or you would like advice about your own Will, contact Hepburn Delaney Solicitors today or call us on 01442 218090.