If someone dies without a valid will, that person is said to die intestate and the law sets out all who may inherit under the Rules of Intestacy originally brought in under the Administration of Estates Act 1925, and more recently updated in February 2020. The process of dealing with the estate is the same as with Probate (where there is a valid will) but where there is no valid will there will a Grant of Letters of Administration needed.
A person’s inheritance is determined by both the value of the estate and the relationships of surviving family members. No one can inherit automatically if they weren’t in a formal legal relationship with the person who died, either through marriage or civil partnership or by being a blood relation.
The term ‘common-law husband or wife’ is often used, but this relationship is not recognized in law. This means unmarried partners do not inherit from their partner who has died. It would be helpful to take legal advice because the situation may be complicated by assets that were owned jointly.
The following Flowchart might help you see how these rules operate in practice.