If you die without a will then you will have died “intestate” and the intestacy rules will govern how your property will be distributed. Married couples sometimes assume that, because they are married, 100% of their property will pass to their spouse on death, however this is only the case if you have no children. If you and your spouse have issue then the surviving spouse will receive your personal chattels and a statutory legacy of £270,000. The residue of your estate will be divided in half with one half going to the surviving spouse and the other half going to your surviving children in equal shares (if one of your children has predeceased you leaving children of their own then those children will take their parent’s share).
If you have a long term partner but are unmarried then, if you die intestate, they would receive nothing under the intestacy rules. Instead, your issue would receive your entire estate on statutory trusts but if you have no children then your estate would pass to your parents but if they have both predeceased you to your brothers and sisters and if none to your grandparents and if none to your aunts and uncles, if you had no relations at all your estate would pass to the crown. It is therefore always advisable to make a will to avoid the intestacy rules and to control how your property passes on your death.
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