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- Who can deal with the assets owned by the person who has died.
- Who inherits the assets owned by the person who has died.
When a friend or a relative dies without a valid Will they are referred to as having died intestate. An intestacy can arise not just where there is a complete absence of a Will but also in the following circumstances:
- Will not signed at all
- Will not signed in front of two independent witnesses.
- Will not found.
- Will was destroyed.
- Will was revoked because the person who died had married or entered into a civil partnership after making the Will.
When there is no valid Will there are two things to consider:
- who can deal with the assets owned by the person who has died
- who inherits the assets owned by the person who has died.
- The rules which govern these entitlements are set out in statute.
If there is no valid will, the following order of priority applies to those who can deal with the administration of the assets of the person who has died:
- the spouse or civil partner of the person who has died
- the child of the person who has died
- the grandchild of the person who has died
- the parent of the person who has died
- the brother or sister of the person who has died
- the nephew or niece of the person who has died
- another relative of the person who has died.
To apply to be an executor you must be over 18, and if not another person may also be required to apply with you. If you are the unmarried partner, or same-sex partner who has not registered a civil partnership, of the person who has died you will not usually be able to act as an administrator.
Who inherits the assets owned by the person who has died.
Those entitled to inherit the assets owned by the person who has died are set out in a strict order of priority, similar to the list above but with some limits on the amounts that may be inherited. It is important to understand your family tree when working out who will inherit all or some of the assets. After the rights of a surviving spouse or civil partner the entitlement of others falls broadly into three categories, children, near relatives (parents, brothers, neices and nephews) and distant relatives (grandparents, half blood relatives).
It can sometimes be difficult to understand how these rules are applied, and the easiest tool we have found is an online intestacy checker here.
If you are the umarried partner or the same sex partner who has not registered a civil partnership of the person who has died you will have no absolute right to inherit any of the assets. In addition, step children, step parents, step brothers/sisters also have not rights to any inheritance in thses circumstances.