What to do if a friend or relative’s estate is intestate

The loss of a friend or relative will always be a distressing time. With this in mind, the last thing you want to deal with are legal complications affecting the distribution of their estate.

If the deceased didn’t leave a will (or one that can be located) the estate is said to be intestate.

An intestate estate can be divided in many ways under intestacy legislation, each with different consequences. In extreme cases unmarried partners or children could be left with only partial access to an estate, and their inheritance would pass to a succession of progressively distant relatives; failing that, it would go to The Crown.

Intestacy rules are complex and can often lead to different outcomes to those the deceased would have wished. For example, whilst they might have considered themselves estranged from certain relatives, unless this was explained in a will, part of their estate could end up being given to these people against their wishes.

This is where the help of a solicitor can prove invaluable, for instance in helping to direct the estate towards the people you know it was intended for. You could also have it donated to a cause or charity that you know the person in question supported.

How to prevent intestacy

There are a few simple steps you can take to ensure that your will is found and your estate isn’t declared intestate on your death. You can ensure there are multiple copies of your will and that tell your executors the location of them. Also, for extra security, you can check that their will is registered with the  local probate office. If you have been named an executor in a will, then ensure you have a copy of the will or know where to locate it.

Intestacy rarely produces the best result on behalf of the deceased or their loved ones. To avoid this, we recommend that every adult – whatever their age or situation – should write a will. Writing your will with the assistance of a solicitor, ensuring that your executor knows its location and registering it correctly will ensure that you won’t die intestate.

Please contact our expert probate and wills team today on 01296 318500 for more advice on how to prevent the unfavourable distribution of an estate, or how to write the most suitable will for your own estate. They can help you achieve a quick and fair outcome for all involved.

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