Inheritance without a Will explained

If you find yourself dealing with the estate of a loved one who’s passed on without leaving a last will and testament, where do you start? Working out what happens to an inheritance without a Will changes depending on whether the deceased was from England and Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland.

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England and Wales

If the deceased has a living partner through a civil partnership or marriage and you’re dealing with an estate that’s worth less than £250,000, the spouse gets the full amount of the estate. If the estate’s worth more than £250,000, the partner is entitled to the assets up to the £250,000 threshold. Any remainder is divided between the partner and any surviving children.


An identical scenario in Scotland would result in the husband, wife or civil partner getting the property left by the deceased. There’s a £473,000 threshold on the property’s value. If the house is worth more than that value, it may have to be sold with the partner getting £473,000 from the sale. Furniture up to the value of £29,000 is also given to the partner and up to £50,000 in cash.

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, the husband, wife or partner has to survive the deceased by 28 days to inherit. If they do, they’ll get up to £250,000 from their partner’s estate along with all the personal possessions no matter what their value. One third of the remainder of the estate is given if the deceased has children with the remaining two thirds divided equally between the sons and daughters.

Final word

No matter what the circumstances of the deceased background, you’ll find out how the inheritance should be divided when there’s no Will by visiting gov.uk, where an easy to use step-by-step guide will ask you for a few general details about the departed before given you the current legal status of the deceased’s assets.

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