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HMRC internal manual

Inheritance Tax Manual

From
HM Revenue & Customs
Updated
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Succession: intestacy: rules in England and Wales: summary of the main rules of intestacy

If the deceased died without making a Will the whole of their estate will pass under the rules of intestacy.

If the deceased made a Will but the Will did not effectively dispose of all their estate this will be a partial intestacy (IHTM12128). The property that was not disposed of by the Will passes under the rules of intestacy.

The way in which an estate is distributed will depend on whether the deceased was married or in a civil partnership and which of their relatives are still alive when they die.

Surviving spouse or civil partner

The Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014, which came into force on 1 October 2014, made amendments to the intestacy rules where the deceased left a surviving spouse or civil partner.

For deaths on or after 1 October 2014

If the deceased was survived by a spouse or civil partner they will take:

  • The personal chattels, a fixed net sum (statutory legacy) and an absolute interest in one half of the residue. The issue take the other half share on statutory trust.
  • The whole estate passing on intestacy if there was no issue.

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For deaths before 1 October 2014

If the deceased was survived by a spouse or civil partner they will take:

  • The chattels, a statutory legacy and a share of the residue (IHTM12121) - if there were any issue (children), parent, brother, sister or issue of brother or sister.
  • All the estate passing by intestacy (IHTM12121) - if there were no issue (children), parent, brother, sister or issue of brother or sister.

The rest of the estate will be distributed to the issue or other relatives.

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Issue

If there was no surviving spouse or civil partner but the deceased had children the estate would be distributed amongst them (IHTM12124).

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Other relatives

If there was no surviving spouse or civil partner and no children the estate would be distributed amongst the deceased’s other relatives (IHTM12125).

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No relatives

If no living relatives can be found the estate will pass to the Crown as bona vacantia (IHTM12126).