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.

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Rachel Kyle


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 writers since 1882

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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Client orientated; they ensure the client is well informed with easy to read documents.

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Our Wills were dealt with efficiently, we have already recommended your firm to our daughter and husband. Absolutely brilliant – thank you.

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Everything was completed professionally and within my tight time scales. I would like to say thank you and would definitely go back to Goughs should I need help in the future.

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Goughs gives outstanding customer satisfaction. They are very approachable, reliable, courteous and informed. I would recommend Goughs to anyone.

R F, Melksham

Great service, professional, great communication and handled what was a very sensitive situation with care and compassion.

W D, Calne

Professional, helpful & knowledgeable service. Giving very clear advice in a way I could understand. Thank you.

Your Intestacy team

Trainee Solicitor

Partner (TEP)

Associate (FCILEx)




Partner & Head of Private Client

Trainee Solicitor


Trainee Solicitor


Trainee Solicitor


Trainee Solicitor



Associate (FILCEx)

Associate Solicitor

Associate (FCILEx)

Associate Solicitor

Partner (TEP)

Partner & Head of Private Wealth

Partner & Head of Private Client

Senior Associate (FCILEx)

Why choose Goughs?

Local since 1882, with an excellent reputation

First-class, effective service

Largest solicitors in Wiltshire

Seven offices throughout the county

Nationally accredited law firm

Recognised by Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners

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