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Paper cut-outs of people, placed on top of cut outs of different houses; our Probate Solicitors in Preston discuss the intestacy rules and how we can assist with your loved one's estate.
The death of a loved one is a difficult time, and if your relative has not left a Will, it can be hard to know where to start when dealing with their estate, making the situation more confusing. That’s where our team of Probate Solicitors in Preston come in: we are experts in Intestate Probate applications and estate administration. Our Probate Solicitors offer fixed-fee Probate applications, which you find out about here, with years of experience in dealing with estates where the person has died with no Will. 
In England and Wales, the Rules of Intestacy, dictate what happens to a person’s estate when they die without a valid Will in place. The Rules can seem somewhat confusing, especially when you have no experience dealing with estates, and you have other matters to deal with, such as funeral arrangements, honouring your loved one’s final wishes. 

Contact our Probate Solicitors in Preston 

How will an intestate estate pass? 

The Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014 changed estate distributions on an intestacy. 
Initially, an amount known as the statutory legacy is paid to the surviving spouse or civil partner.This legacy is paid, even if you are separated from your spouse or civil partner at the date of your death. The statutory legacy has increased in recent years and is currently set at £322,000. In addition to this legacy, any jointly owned assets, such as bank accounts or property held as joint tenants, will pass by survivorship. Our Probate Solicitors in Preston most commonly see spouses or civil partners with joint bank accounts, jointly owned property, and joint insurance policies. 
If the assets held in the deceased’s sole name are worth more than £322,000, any amount over this will be divided between the deceased’s spouse or civil partner, and their children, if they have any. 
For example, if the deceased’s estate is worth £500,000, the spouse or civil partner receives £411,000 (£322,000 plus half of the remaining estate, totalling £89,000), and the children will get £89,000 divided equally between them. If any of the children have died before their parent, their children (the grandchildren) will receive their parent’s share equally. 
On top of the statutory legacy, and the half balance of the remaining estate, the spouse or civil partner will receive all the deceased’s personal chattels, which means the personal belongings of the deceased. 
The statutory legacy above only applies to estates where the person died on or after 26 July 2023. Before this, the statutory legacy was £270,000, and this amount applies to deaths between 6 February 2020 and 25 July 2023. 
If the deceased dies with no Will and no spouse or civil partner, for example, if they were never married or divorced, but they have children, their estate will be divided equally between their children, including those legally adopted into the family. Again, grandchildren inherit if their parent has predeceased. 
Should your loved one have died without a Will, and none of the above relatives, the following relatives inherit from the estate in order: 
Surviving parent or parents 
Full-blood siblings (or their children, if predeceased) 
Half-blood siblings (or their children, if predeceased) 
Aunts/Uncles (or their children, if predeceased) 
Half-blood Aunts and Uncles (or their children, if predeceased) 
It’s important to remember that the above occurs in priority, so the next class of beneficiaries cannot inherit if there are any surviving in the class above. If the above have all predeceased, then the estate passes to the Crown, or the Duchy of Cornwall or Lancaster, if applicable. These are known as Bona Vacantia estates

Do cohabitees benefit if someone has died without a Will? 

Our Probate Solicitors in Preston come across the misconception often that cohabitees inherit from each other if they have lived together for so long before one dies. People frequently refer to this as a ‘common law marriage’. If you were cohabiting without being married or in a civil partnership you cannot currently benefit under the Intestacy Rules. 

What happens to property owned as Tenants in Common? 

There are two different ways of jointly owning a property: either as tenants in common or as beneficial joint tenants. 
If two people own a property as joint tenants, on the death of the first person, the property would automatically pass to the survivor of them. If a property is owned as tenants in common, the surviving owner would not automatically inherit the property, and this would pass as per their Will (or the Rules of Intestacy if they have no Will in place). 
For example, Mr and Mrs Smith are married and own their property as beneficial joint tenants. The property it worth £600,000. In joint names, Mr and Mrs Smith have a bank account with £100,000, and in Mr Smith’s sole name is an ISA worth £50,000. On Mr Smith’s death, as two of the assets are owned jointly (the property and the bank account), these pass automatically to the surviving owner, Mrs Smith. Therefore, the value of Mr Smith’s estate (for the purposes of the Rules of Intestacy) is limited to the ISA: £50,000. As this amount is under £322,000, Mrs Smith would inherit everything. Any children of Mr and Mrs Smith would not inherit anything at this stage. 
Now, if Mr and Mrs Smith owned their property as tenants in common and had separate bank accounts (Mr Smith’s bank account being worth £50,000), Mr Smith’s share of the property (if we assume that they own the property 50/50), would be £300,000. When all these figures are calculated, Mr Smith’s estate is worth £350,000. In these circumstances, Mrs Smith would inherit the first £322,000 from the estate, and the remaining £28,000 would be divided equally between Mrs Smith, and Mr Smith’s children. 

Where does the money from Bona Vacantia estates go? 

The Treasury Solicitor is tasked with dealing with estates which have passed to the Crown. The Crown can make grants from the estate of a deceased person but is under no obligation to. If you think that you have a good reason to apply for a Grant from the estate of a deceased person, speak to our team of Probate Solicitors in Preston about whether you may have a claim. 

Can you change how the estate is shared out? 

Yes. If someone is due to inherit from an estate, but wanted to change their share, the people entitled to inherit could all agree to vary the inheritance. This is usually done through a Deed of Variation. 
A Deed of Variation could even be put in place to benefit people who wouldn’t usually receive something from the estate, such as a partner or friend. 
However, it is important to note that some people cannot generally vary their inheritance. For example, if they receive means-tested benefits, changing an inheritance could equate to a deliberate deprivation of assets, and could be challenged by the benefit-issuing organisation, such as the DWP. 

How much does a Deed of Variation cost? 

Our team of solicitors in Preston usually charge around £300.00 plus VAT for a relatively straight forward Deed. 

How do I instruct solicitors to deal with my loved one’s estate? 

Contact our Probate Solicitors in Preston to discuss your loved one’s estate, whether they died with or without a Will. Our Solicitors offer fixed-fees and no-obligation telephone consultations to discuss the steps required. We can deal with all aspects of estate administration, from an application for Probate, to the full administration of the estate, to preparing a Deed of Variation to vary the Will or intestacy rules. 
Call 01772 783314 or email to speak with a member of our team within one working hour. 

Can I make a claim if I am excluded from the deceased’s Will? 

You may be able to make a claim if you believed that you were going to inherit from a deceased’s estate, but have not, or if you believe that you were dependent on the deceased’s money. For example, surviving partners who cohabited may wish to make an application to the Court for financial help. In these cases, the cohabitation must have occurred for at least two years prior to the deceased’s death. 
Another circumstance in which you may claim, was if you were treated as a child of the family, but would not be entitled to claim under the Rules of Intestacy, you may wish to make a claim. 
You should always seek advice from a contentious Probate Solicitor if you believe you have a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. 

How can I prevent my estate from passing under the Intestacy Rules? 

You should ensure you have a valid Will in place, setting out exactly who you want to benefit from your estate on your death. This ensures that your loved ones are provided for, and your estate passes to the people you want to receive it. This could include non-blood relatives, such as stepchildren and non-blood nieces and nephews, who do not inherit under the intestacy rules. 
This can prevent your closest loved ones being left to make a claim against your estate, which can be time consuming, stressful, and costly, depleting your estate in costs. 
To make a Will, contact our Solicitors in Preston on 01772 783 314 or email for a response within one working hour. 

Solicitors for the Elderly Accredited 

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Decades of experience 

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Home visits available 

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