If you die without leaving a valid Will, the law will decide who should inherit your estate, as follows:
• If you were married with no children, your surviving spouse/civil partner will inherit the whole estate absolutely.
• If you were married with children, your surviving spouse/civil partner will inherit the first £250,000 of your estate (after debts, funeral costs and taxes are paid) plus your personal belongings. The balance will be split – half will go to your surviving spouse/civil partner and the other half to your children in equal shares. If any of your children pre-deceased you, their own children will inherit their parent’s share.
• If you were not legally married, your family will inherit in the following order:
– Children (or their children)
– Brothers and sisters (or their children)
– Half-brothers and half-sisters (or their children)
– Aunts and uncles (or their children)
– Half-aunts and half-uncles (or their children)
• If no living relatives can be found, the Crown will inherit.
If your wishes for the distribution of your estate on death are not in accordance with the order of inheritance as set out under Intestacy Law, it is important to set out your own instructions in a Will.