My relative didn’t leave a Will, what should I do?
You might find yourself if a situation whereby your loved one didn't leave a Will. Here are the best steps to take..
One of our recent posts, ‘How Do I Know if Someone Left a Will?’ outlined the best course of action for how to find a loved one’s Will if you don’t know whether they made one. This includes checking all safety deposit boxes, asking friends, family and neighbours, and checking with their accountant.
However, it may be the case that they simply don’t have one. And that’s not surprising. Around 50% of adults in the UK have not made a Will.
Why do people not make a Will?
There are a number of reasons why people don’t make a Will, including:
it isn’t a priority. They don’t think it is important and they don’t plan on dying anytime soon
it is too morbid. They don’t like to think about their own mortality and think maybe writing a Will is tempting fate
it is too much hassle and will cost a lot of money
they don’t feel they have anything to leave anyone.
When someone dies without leaving a Will
When someone dies without leaving a Will it is known as dying “intestate.”
Usually the Will outlines how a person’s assets should be distributed. However, where there is no Will the contents are distributed through the ‘rules of intestacy’ – i.e. the law decides who inherits the estate.
How do I handle the estate without a Will?
If the deceased did not leave a Will, an ‘administrator’ will deal with the estate. Typically, the deceased’s next of kin will apply for a Grant of Representation (also known as ‘probate’) to be the administrator of the estate.
Who can apply to be the Administrator?
You can usually apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration and become administrator if you’re the next of kin i.e. spouse, civil partner, parent or child. You can also apply if you are still married or in a civil partnership, but were separated when they died. Partners cannot apply if they were not either married or in a civil partnership at the time of death.
Distributing the estate
Once you have been made administrator it is your legal responsibility to pay off any debts that the deceased may have had. These can include any outstanding bills and any outstanding tax owed.
When someone dies without a Will, instead of their assets being distributed according to their Will, they are distributed by law. Depending on the individual circumstances, the estate is usually passed on to the next of kin i.e. wife, husband, civil partner or children.
Dealing with a loved one’s estate can be complicated and stressful – especially at such a traumatic time.
If you would like any advice on dealing with an estate (whether there is a valid Will or not), give us a call on 0161 907 4044 or email us at [email protected]