Laws of Intestacy: married, no children

Who inherits your estate if you are married or in a Civil Partnership and have no children?

The information on these web pages and downloads apply only to England & Wales.  The laws of intestacy are different in Scotland and Northern Ireland.  The intestate estate will be distributed according to rules dating back to 1925 (in England & Wales).  Who inherits your estate on your death depends on your marital status, whether you have children and the surviving members of your immediate family.

The intestacy rules were changed on 1st October 2014 by the Inheritance and Trustees Powers Act 2014.

Note, however, that any person who is financially dependent on the deceased, whether they inherit on intestacy or not, could make a claim through the courts under the Inheritance (Provision For Family And Dependents) Act 1975.

Laws of Intestacy Flowchart

Please follow this link to download a flowchart of the Laws of Intestacy.

General Rules

The following General Rules refer to the boxes in “Laws of Intestacy” diagram.

  • The spouse or Civil Partner will benefit if he/she survives the intestate by 28 days, otherwise the estate will be dealt with as if there had been no spouse (*).
  • Same sex partners are not (currently) recognised under intestacy law – unless in a Civil Partnership.  They have to go to court if they wish to be allocated an inheritance.
  • How beneficiaries will inherit jointly-owned assets is dependent on how that property (property, land, bank account, etc) is held.

Who inherits?

For couples who are married or in a Civil Partnership with no children the survivor inherits the entire estate.