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HMRC internal manual

Trusts, Settlements and Estates Manual

Deceased persons: intestacy: England and Wales - surviving spouse or civil partner

The rules relating to intestacy changed in October 2014, (The Inheritance and Trustees Powers Act 2014 (ITPA 2014) came into force on 1 October 2014).  The rules of intestacy govern what happens to an estate if someone dies without leaving a valid will.  The estate would be divided according to a fixed set of rules which could be contrary to the intentions of the deceased.

If the deceased was married (or in a civil partnership), irrespective of the estate value (for a death on or after 1 December 1993) and there are no children or grandchildren, the spouse gets everything.

For an estate worth more than £250,000 where there are children or grandchildren the spouse or civil partner would receive:

  • Household contents and personal effects (“the personal chattels” which could also be monetary, business assets or held as an investment).
  • First £250,000 (a fixed sum (see (a) of TSEM7828), free of inheritance tax and costs, within interest from the date of death
  • Half of the balance of the estate
  • Other half shared equally between your children (or their descendants).