What happens when someone dies but doesn't have a will? If you're not able to find a will, then chances are good that the deceased party never left one. Consider that 2017 research showed that 6 of 10 UK adults did not have one at the time. When these individuals pass away, the situation is known as dying intestate, so their estate will then typically get handled by a next of kin. These administrators can't just go around dividing up an estate as they would like to, since they have to follow intestacy rules as laid out by the government. Return To Top An Explanation Of Intestacy Rules Intestacy rules stipulate what is to happen if there is not a will, and these rules cover who can and can not inherit. The rules basically state just who can be given your estate. The current rules trace back to October 2014, and they are rigidly based on a number of relationships: If there is a surviving partner via marriage or a civil partnership with children: The worth of a person's estate is going to vary. The spouse of a deceased person can get everything up to a value of £250,000. Additionally, the personal items of the deceased get gifted to that spouse. Anything in excess of the £250,000 gets split in half. The first half will go the children of the deceased as they reach 18 years of age. The second half gets add to the existing inheritance of the surviving spouse. If there is a surviving partner via marriage or a civil partnership, but there are no children: In these cases, the spouse inherits everything. All estate proceeds, including possessions, money, and property, go to them. Under the rules of intestacy, no other family relatives receive consideration. If there happen to be children but not a partner via marriage or a civil partnership: In these circumstances, the children wind up inheriting everything. All proceeds get divided equally between the siblings. However, they only receive their shares upon their 18th birthdays. Adopted children inherit, although stepchildren do not. Partners are not considered unless they had a marriage or civil partnership officially on record with the deceased individual. If there is neither a partner or children: In such cases, an estate goes to the parents of the deceased. If these parents are also deceased, then the estate is handed out to any surviving family members in the following order: Brothers/sisters (Or even nieces/nephews should a sibling passed away already) Grandparents Aunts/uncles (Or even cousins should an aunt or uncle precede you in death) If there are no living relatives, then everything goes directly to the Crown. While many individuals would prefer to remember various family members in a will, this isn't allowed by intestacy rules. Loved ones that you would like to benefit from the dispersal of your estate would get overlooked. Also, family members which you have not communicated with in many years might be favored. At the time of writing, the current intestacy rules do not permit the following categories of people the chance to inherit: Unmarried partners Same-sex couples who are not formally in a civil partnership Relations via marriage, such as stepchildren Close acquaintances Caretakers Source: Citizen's Advice You likely have heard quite a few dreadful stories about handling an intestate estate. Working out all that has to happen can take months. It might even involve having a tracing agent filling in an accurate family tree, and that takes money and more time. However, that's far from the only reason why skipping out on a will could matter. A lot of people would likely find discomfort with any of the possible realities under the rules of intestacy: If there aren't any surviving relatives, then the estate can pass in full to the Crown, which means unmarried partners or close friends might miss out. Financial dependents that don't inherit through intestacy would have to file Inheritance Act claims before they could get support. Special requests from any family members are not considered. Any personal possessions get divided up as listed above, even should the deceased have made special promises regarding certain items to particular family members. If you think that any of these rules might impact who winds up getting your estate, then it is high time you write out a will. It's the most effective means of ensuring that your possessions, property, and money are distributed as you prefer.