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What is Intestacy?

Intestacy is the state of a person dying without a legally valid will. 

Dying intestate - without a will - means the law says who gets what. The rules of intestacy dictate who is entitled to inherit. 

Have you written a will?


If the answer is yes, then you’ll avoid intestacy, the state of dying without a will. Your will tells the person you choose as your executor how to carry out your final wishes and distribute your legacy to your beneficiaries, which may include family, friends and good causes. 

If you haven’t written a will yet, we recommend you add it to your to do list. If you die intestate – without a will – intestacy rules are used to work out who is entitled to a share of your money, property and possessions.

The rules of intestacy may mean that your legacy ends up benefiting people you would not have chosen. 

Intestacy rules


So who ends up with your belongings if you die intestate? 

The rules of intestacy look first to see if there’s a living married partner or civil partner.

If not, it’s living children, grandchildren or other direct descendants (eg great-grandchildren) including legally-adopted sons or daughters, but not step-children. 

Next, are there any living parents or brothers or sisters? If not, are there half-brothers or half-sisters? Then it’s grandparents, uncles and aunts, half-uncles and half-aunts. 

If no known family can be found, everything you leave behind is classed as ownerless property and it passes to the Crown. 

Applying for probate for a person who has died without a will


Even without a will you can still do probate but you must make all efforts to locate the will first. 

Then you will need to apply for letters of administration. Essentially, it’s probate – the right to administer the deceased’s estate.

YouCanDoProbate can help you do this.. Our online system will automatically fill in the necessary  application form PA1A for you and provide an intuitive Intestacy Walkthrough which will guide you through who the beneficiaries of the estate will be.