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When a person dies without having made a Will or a Will that is valid, they are said to have died intestate. Sometimes there is a Will but unfortunately it does not properly dispose of all of that person's property and that part of the estate is dealt with under the intestacy laws. This can happen sometimes, when people make their own Wills and don't use appropriate wording to ensure everything is dealt with. There are strict rules commonly known as the Intestacy Rules which are contained in a 1925 Act of Parliament which dictate how a person's estate is distributed. This can mean that instead of the property going to the deceased’s chosen beneficiaries, it is left to defined relatives in a particular order as set out in the Act.

The spouse or civil partner has priority over all other categories of beneficiaries but may have to share the residuary estate with other beneficiaries, namely any children of the deceased. Depending on the size of the estate, it may also mean that the deceased’s parents or brothers and sisters receive a share of the estate.

The Intestacy Rules also set out who is entitled to deal with the administration of the estate.

The following persons have no right to inherit where someone dies without leaving a Will:

These persons may in certain circumstances be able to apply to the court for financial provision from the estate and the court then takes into account a number of factors when making its decision.