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HMRC internal manual

Trusts, Settlements and Estates Manual

Deceased persons: intestacy: England and Wales - division of estate

Subject to the rights of the surviving spouse or civil partner (TSEM7826), the estate is divisible in equal shares among the children of the intestate. The share of a deceased child passes to his/her issue, if any. If the intestate leaves no issue, the estate passes to his/her parents if living at the date of his/her death. Failing parents, the estate passes to his/her brothers and sisters. Failing these it goes to his/her more remote relatives. Where a beneficiary is unmarried and under 18 (21 if the intestate died before 1 January 1970), the income of his/her share may be paid or applied for his/her maintenance, education or benefit. Any surplus income is accumulated in trust until he/she reaches the age of 18 (or 21, as appropriate) or marries or enters into a civil partnership under that age.

No surviving kin

Where there are no surviving kin entitled to his/her estate, the estate passes as bona vacantia to

  • the Crown, or
  • the Duchy of Lancaster (if the deceased was resident in the Duchy of Lancaster) or
  • the Duchy of Cornwall (if the deceased was resident in the Duchy of Cornwall).