Legal advice if a loved one dies without a Will

Legal advice if a loved one dies without a Will

The Intestacy Rules - What does it mean?

When somebody dies without leaving a valid Will, they are said to die intestate.

The rules of intestacy govern how the estate comprising the person’s money and property will be distributed among family members who are entitled to benefit from the estate.

The intestacy rules are a list of people that are entitled to share in the estate of the deceased, in order of priority.

At Goughs we have a team of specialist legal advisors who can assist and advise you with the administration of estates in the case of intestacy.

A loved one has died without a Will
what should I do?

We recommend seeking legal advice. Administering an estate is a time consuming and complicated process that our lawyers are here to help you throughout the process.

Our highly experienced lawyers are here to offer the sensitive, practical support you need.

Our experts will help you deal with an estate where there is no Will

Your local Will writer since 1882

Our team of experts are here for you

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What should I do is there isn't a Will?
What should I do is there isn't a Will?

Popular questions about Intestacies

It’s important to note that not all of a person’s estate will necessarily follow the intestacy rules. There are separate rules for assets held jointly whereby such assets will pass by what is known as survivorship to the surviving joint owner, for example, a deceased held a joint bank account, this account will pass automatically to the joint account holder rather than via a Will or the intestacy rules. 

When determining who should inherit an estate under the intestacy rules, you must ask certain questions. For more information on the rules of intestacy, please click here.

If you die intestate, and are married, your spouse or civil partner will only receive a certain amount of your estate (currently the first £250,000, if you have children and £450,000 if you do not, plus half of everything above that amount and your personal possessions). If you are separated from your spouse or civil partner but have not yet finalised your divorce or dissolution of your civil partnership, they will still inherit under these rules even if this would not be your wish. The remainder of your estate will then be split between any children, grandchildren or great grandchildren, or more distant family members if you do not have any direct descendants.  The rules of intestacy only include biological children or legally adopted children so if you have step-children, they will not inherit any part of your estate.

If you have no immediate family, the administrators of your estate (persons responsible for gathering your assets and distributing your assets in accordance with the rules of intestacy) are legally obliged to trace and locate more distant members of your family. This may require the instruction of a genealogist to locate these family members, often at a great expense to your estate. 

People who aren’t entitled to inherit under the intestacy rules (for example, financial dependants or co-habiting partners) can still make a claim for provision under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

We have a specialist department in contesting Wills, contact us today for more information.

Our lawyers have a wealth of experience in the administration of intestate estates and can help you deal with everything as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Consider registering a trust or estate. We aim to relieve the level of emotional stress at what is an already difficult time. As recognised Legal 500 experts we’re here to support you.

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Your Intestacy team

Maxine Coles

Associate Chartered Legal Executive

Maxine specialises in Private Client work, with much of her work being in elderly client care. She has a natural empathy towards clients in what can often be distressing situations.

Samantha Pettersen


Samantha joined Goughs as a Solicitor in 2020. Samantha has been practicing in Private Client law since 2018, and loves the personal interaction with clients and being able to help them with difficult personal and emotional circumstances.

Annie James


Annie qualified as a Private Client solicitor in 2016 and joined Goughs in February 2020. She specialises in the preparation of Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney, preparation and administration of Trusts, and the administration of Estates. Annie prides herself on taking the time to really understand the needs and priorities of her clients.

Rochelle Graham


Rochelle qualified as a Private Client solicitor in September 2019 after gaining valuable experience in the Private Client team. She is now a year qualified and continues to develop and further her knowledge of Private client work.

Luchia Hirst

Associate Solicitor

Luchia has been practicing Private Client law for close to 8 years, and really enjoys the client contact and hands-on nature of this area of practice.

Dawn Moir

Partner (TEP)

Dawn joined in 2003 and became a partner in 2004. Whilst Dawn supports her team with all aspects of estate planning and estate administration, her particular areas of expertise are later life planning & support, and trust creation & administration, including all things tax.

Phillip Bolton

Partner & Head of Private Wealth

Phillip is a Partner and Head of the Private Wealth Team at the firm. His practice encompasses all aspects of private client work, with a particular interest in complex Wills, wealth preservation, tax mitigation, and estate planning.

Emma Taylor

Partner & Head of Private Client

Emma began her life at Goughs in 2008 as a Solicitor. Now, with over 15 years of experience, she is a Partner and Head of the Private Client Department. Emma deals with all areas of Private Client work but has a particular interest in Trusts and Complex Property Ownership.

Trish Watkins

Senior Associate (FCILEx)

As a Private Client lawyer, Trish always had a strong empathy for the elderly and vulnerable and prides herself in being able to engage with them and support them through what can be very difficult times.

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