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Everything you Need to Know About Sibling Inheritance Laws

27 Oct 2020

Author: Hepburn Delaney

SPEAK WITH ONE OF OUR SPECIALIST WILLS & PROBATE SOLICITORS

Overseeing the legal and financial documentation following the death of a family member can be a challenging task. There can be a number of complexities when it comes to dealing with a person’s estate, particularly in circumstances where someone passes away without making a Will.

What happens when someone dies without a Will?

When someone passes away without leaving a valid Will, they are referred to as  ‘intestate’. In these circumstances, their property is shared out according to certain rules. These rules are called the Rules of Intestacy.

When determining who’s entitled to inherit from someone who dies without a valid Will, the rules of intestacy prioritise spouses or civil partners first, and then blood relatives. These rules don’t acknowledge unmarried partners or friends of the deceased.

The order of entitlement for inheriting the deceased’s estate is as follows:

  1. Spouse or civil partner
  2. Children or grandchildren
  3. Parents
  4. Full-blood siblings or their direct descendants
  5. Half-blood siblings or their direct descendants
  6. Grandparents
  7. Uncles and aunts of the whole blood or their direct descendants
  8. Uncles and aunts of the half blood or their direct descendants
  9. The Crown

The rules of intestacy also come into play in cases of partial intestacy, when someone dies and leaves a Will that shares out some, but not all, of their estate. In this situation, the rules only apply to the property that isn’t covered in the Will.

But what are the sibling inheritance laws in England and Wales?

When do siblings inherit?

According to the intestacy rules for England and Wales, the estate is passed in its entirety to the deceased’s full-blood siblings in cases where there is no surviving:

  • Spouse or civil partner
  • Children or grandchildren
  • Parents

If the deceased leaves behind more than one full-blood sibling, then they will inherit in equal shares.

When do half-blood siblings inherit?

Half-blood refers to relatives that share just one common ancestor with the deceased. The intestacy rules for England and Wales also state that the estate is passed in its entirety to the deceased’s half-siblings when there is no surviving:

  • Spouse or civil partner
  • Children or grandchildren
  • Parents
  • Full-blood siblings

For more information about the rules of intestacy, take a look at our blogs covering what would happen to your children if you die and what happens if both parents die without a Will.

Changing how the estate is shared out

When someone dies, it’s possible to alter the way in which the property is shared out between beneficiaries. This is referred to as making a deed variation. If this is done within two years of the death it can also sometimes have advantageous tax consequences.

Our probate solicitors

Hepburn Delaney are experts in preparing Wills and helping families deal with the legal requirements following the death of a loved one. There can be various challenges when dealing with a person’s estate after they have passed away. Our probate solicitors can help you manage the legal steps surrounding the estate administration in a flexible manner, dealing with the whole process from beginning to end, or you can choose to instruct us just to help you to obtain the grant of representation.

For further advice on when brothers and sisters inherit, grants of representation and estate administration, or if you need guidance regarding a family member’s intestacy, please contact our team today.