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When someone dies without a Will (known as intestacy) in England and Wales and they have a living spouse or civil partner, the spouse/civil partner is entitled to everything in the estate if it is not worth more than £322,000. Joint assets pass by survivorship.

Statutory Legacy sum

When the estate is worth more than £322,000 and the person who died has children, the children will receive half of the remaining amount over the threshold, and the spouse/civil partner is entitled to the other half. For example, if an estate is worth £522,000 (in the sole name of the Deceased), the spouse or civil partner would inherit £422,000 (£322,000 plus £100,000 from half of the remaining estate) and any children would inherit £100,000 split equally between them.

This is known as the Statutory Legacy sum. Previously, the sum was £270,000; if the death was between 6th February 2020 and 25th July 2023, this amount still applies. If the date of death is on or after 26th July 2023, the Statutory Legacy sum of £322,000 applies.

Order of priority

No matter the value of the estate, the spouse/civil partner inherits all of the Deceased’s personal belongings when there is no Will. If the person who died did not have a spouse/civil partner but did have children, the estate would be equally split between them. After that the order of priority is: living parents; full-blood siblings; half-blood siblings; grandparents; aunts/uncles; half-blood aunts/uncles. If a relative has died, their children are entitled to inherit.

For advice on dealing with intestacy, get in touch.