Letters of Administration
If there is no Will, a close relative can apply for a grant of Letters of Administration which will give them the legal right to manage the disposal and distribution of the estate. This can be a complicated and lengthy process.
Where there is no valid Will (bringing about an intestate estate) fixed rules apply about who can act as a personal representative, and how the assets of the deceased are divided and to whom they are distributed.
There is a hierarchy for distributing intestate estates between spouses/civil partners, children, parents, brothers and sisters right though to half-blood uncles and aunts.
For example, if a person dies leaves no Will and has no children his entire estate will pass to a surviving spouse or civil partner.
Where there are children then the assets in the estate up to £270,000 goes to the surviving spouse or partner. Anything more than that is split as to one half between the surviving spouse or partner and the remaining half is shared between the children of the deceased.
Where there is no surviving spouse or civil partner the order of inheritance is:
- If there are no children, then parents of the deceased
- If there are no children or parents, then brothers and sisters, followed by half- brothers and sisters
- If none of the above, then grandparents
- If none of the above then aunts and uncles, followed by half-blood aunts and uncles.
If there is no surviving spouse/civil partner and no relatives can be traced then the entire estate goes to the Crown, that is, to the government who can spend it however they like