What happens if I die without a will?

29th April 2016

It is a common misconception that if you do not make a will your entire estate will automatically pass to your spouse when you die.  Tracey Lane, wills and probate lawyer at Ansons Solicitors in Cannock dispels this myth with some home truths.

If you do not have a will, the intestacy rules will determine how your estate will be distributed when you die. This could mean your estate may not pass to the people you intend.

What if I have a surviving spouse?

If you are married and your estate is worth less than £250,000.00, your entire estate will pass to your spouse as long as they survive you for 28 days. A surviving spouse is classed as your husband, wife or civil partner. Unmarried couples are not spouses.

If your estate is worth more than £250,000.00 and you have living children, grandchildren or other direct descendants such as great-grandchildren, your spouse will receive the first £250,000.00, your personal possessions and half of what’s left. Your children, grandchildren or other direct descendants will receive the other half when they turn 18.

What if I do not have a surviving spouse?

Under the intestacy rules, your estate will be shared equally between your relatives in the following order: 

1. Your children or their descendants.

2. Your parents.

3. Your brothers and sisters or their descendants.

4. Your half-brothers and half-sisters or their descendants

5. Your grandparents.

6. Your aunts and uncles or their descendants. 

It is therefore important that you make a will whatever your circumstances.

The intestacy rules only apply to assets held in your sole name. Jointly owned assets will pass to the surviving joint owner regardless.

For more advice about making a will please contact Tracey Lane at Ansons Solicitors in Cannock and Lichfield on 01543 431 932 or email Tracey at