The first thing to do when a family member or loved one has died is to look for a will. If there is no will, the process of dealing with the estate becomes more complex. The rules of intestacy apply to estates where no will is left. The probate solicitors in Potters Bar at SCL Wills and Probate provide will writing services, help clients with applying for power of attorney in Barnet, and applying for a Grant of Representation in situations where the deceased did not leave a will.
The Rules of Intestacy
When a person dies without leaving a will, the process of dealing with the estate can become complicated and may take months or years to sort out. The difficulty and length of time required to complete the process depends on several factors, such as the complexity of the estate and surviving heirs. Probate solicitors and lawyers in Barnet can explain the law, as it applies to your situation.
A person who dies without a will is referred to as an intestate person and the estate will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy. Only very specific close relatives are eligible to inherit under the rules of intestacy. These same rules also apply to a deceased person who did make a will, but that will is not valid.
The people who may inherit under these rules include married partners or civil partners. However, the spouse or civil partner and the deceased must have been married or in a civil partnership at the time of death. If they were separated, they may still inherit from the estate, but if the marriage or partnership was legally ended, the former spouse or civil partner is not entitled to inherit anything.
Surviving children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren of the deceased may inherit under the rules of intestacy. The amount that children and grandchildren may inherit depends on whether or not the deceased has a surviving spouse or civil partner. If there is no partner, the children may inherit the whole estate. The estate will be divided equally among the surviving children. If there is no partner and the deceased had no children, other relatives may inherit under the rules of intestacy, such as parents, siblings, nieces and nephews, grandparents, or aunts and uncles. If there are no surviving family members to inherit property, it will pass to the Crown.
Applying for a Grant of Representation
When estates do not have a will, the person dealing with the estate is known as an administrator. Someone who is the deceased’s next of kin can apply for a grant of representation to be the administrator of an estate. The people who are able to apply for this grant are those who would be considered the next of kin, such as a spouse, civil partner, or child.
A husband, wife, or civil partner who was separated at the time of the deceased’s death, but still married or in a civil partnership may apply for the grant of representation. However, if the deceased and his or her partner were not married or in a civil partnership at the time of death, the surviving partner is not eligible to apply for the grant and not automatically entitled to inherit anything from the estate, other than jointly owned property.
The process of administering an estate without a will is complex and the law ultimately decides who will inherit the estate. Will, probate, and estate planning solicitors in Barnet can explain the rules of intestacy and how they apply to your situation and help you through the probate process when there is no will.