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No Will Probate

When someone passes away without having a valid will, their estate will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy. Find out more in our guide.

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What are Intestacy Rules?

When someone passes away without leaving a Will, it is said they died ‘intestate.’ This means administering their assets and belongings passes under the rules of intestacy.

Dealing with a person’s assets is more challenging if there isn’t a Will and will take longer to manage. But with advice from an expert legal professional, the process doesn’t have to be as daunting as you may think.

Who Inherits if there is no Will?

The responsibility for administering the estate will fall to the next of kin or closest living family member. This individual is the same person entitled to benefit from the Will according to intestacy rules. They must apply for Letters of Administration to take control of the deceased’s assets.

Only married or civil partners and some close family members can inherit a person’s estate under the rules of intestacy.

Children will inherit the whole estate only if there is no surviving married or civil partner.  The estate will be shared between the children equally. If the deceased is survived by a spouse or civil partner, their children will only inherit part of the estate if it is over a certain value.

Intestacy Rules

It should be noted that it is not only people who die without writing a Will who leave their beneficiaries feeling uncertain about how to proceed. There are several situations in which the Rules of Intestacy apply:

  • The deceased wrote a Will that cannot be found
  • The deceased left a Will found to be not legally enforceable, i.e. not properly witnessed when signed
  • The deceased died after the beneficiaries
  • The deceased and the beneficiaries died at the same time
  • The testator revoked the Will


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Who can Apply for Probate in Cases of Intestacy?

In the event of intestacy, the next of kin must administer any assets. There is a priority for next of kin under UK law, which is as follows:

  1. Spouse/registered civil partner
  2. Children (biological and adopted)
  3. Grandchildren
  4. Parents
  5. Siblings
  6. Nephews/nieces
  7. Half-siblings
  8. Children of half-siblings
  9. Grandparents
  10. Aunts/uncles
  11. Cousins
  12. Half-aunts and uncles
  13. Children of half-aunts and uncles

What is Partial Intestacy?

A partial intestacy occurs when the deceased has left a Will, but the Will does not address all of their assets. For instance, the Will may distribute various assets to several beneficiaries in different proportions. If one of these beneficiaries dies before the testator and the Will does not specify an alternative beneficiary for their share, that share becomes subject to intestacy, as there is no direction on who should inherit in this situation.

In such cases, the rest of the Will remains valid, and the distribution of the remaining assets proceeds according to the specified terms of the Will.

Applying for Probate when there is no Will

When there is no Will, the process differs slightly from obtaining a Grant of Probate. Instead, you will apply for a document known as a Grant of Letters of Administration. This document serves a similar purpose, granting the authority to manage the estate.

The Intestacy Rules specify who is eligible to administer the estate—typically, this responsibility falls to the deceased's spouse, civil partner, or child. For more detailed information on this process, please refer to our dedicated page on Letters of Administration.

Dealing with matters of probate can be challenging in the case where no Will has been left. If you are unsure about the process, our Probate Solicitors are here to help.

Call us today for an initial no-obligation call, or click here for a callback. We also have meeting facilities in North Wales for Family Law Clients.