If someone dies and hasn’t made a Will, there will not be an executor who has authority to immediately deal with the deceased person’s affairs.

It is usually the closest relative who becomes entitled to sort out the estate and to apply for a ‘Grant of Letters of Administration’ from the Probate Registry which gives them authority to deal with the estate. The role of the appointed administrator involves similar duties to acting as an executor in co-ordinating details of the estate assets and debts, paying inheritance tax and then selling or distributing the assets of the estate. Particular care has to be taken to ensure that all the correct beneficiaries have been identified.

If no Will can be found after a thorough search, then relatives may need to be traced if they are entitled to a part of the estate. There are rules on the order of entitlement to the estate which depends on:

  • The value of the estate;
  • Surviving family members.

The closer relatives will inherit the estate as priority.

The rules changed on 1 October 2014 and we can help you check how the estate should be distributed correctly, we can contact beneficiaries for you and help trace family members who may be entitled to a share of the estate.

Usually if there is a surviving married or civil partner they will inherit the estate and if there are surviving children, they may get a share of the estate if it is valued at more than £250,000. However if the deceased was not married or in a civil partnership, others may be entitled to deal with the deceased person’s affairs or to inherit their estate. The fact of cohabitation does not give an automatic entitlement to the deceased’s estate and advice should be taken.

We can help you check whether or not there is a Will, and we can advise you on who is entitled to deal with the estate if there is no Will. We can also help to guide you on the steps you need to take to administer the estate and who is going to be entitled to inherit the estate.

If you would like to find out more about intestacy, please speak to a member of our team.