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HMRC internal manual

Inheritance Tax Manual

Succession: intestacy: distributions (England & Wales): issue

Subject to the rights of the surviving spouse or civil partner (IHTM12121 ) the issue (children, grandchildren and remoter descendants) take absolutely in the following way:

  • the deceased’s children living at the death in equal shares on reaching the age of 18 or marrying under that age, and
  • the grandchildren (or remoter descendants) living at the death whose parent would have taken a share but for dying before the intestate, in equal shares of their parent’s share on reaching the age of 18 or marrying.


Mary died intestate in 2008. Her husband had died before her. During her life Mary had three children - Jack, Joseph and Jessica. Jack died before Mary, leaving two children - Robert and Rosie.

Joseph and Jessica will each be entitled to a third share of Mary’s estate. The remaining third that would have passed to Jack if he had survived will now pass to his children, Rosie and Robert, who will receive a sixth of the estate each.

You should note that

  • adopted children have the same rights as natural children
  • both legitimate and illegitimate children have the same rights
  • step children are not ‘issue’ unless they have been adopted by the deceased.