Over 60% of adults in the UK don’t have a Will so its highly likely you’ve come across someone that doesn’t have a Will or it's very likely you will in the future.
Before you take the steps below make sure you read our post “How do I know if someone has left a Will”
People don’t make a Will for a number of reasons, including:
They don’t think it’s important
They don’t plan on dying any time soon
They don’t think they have anything to leave
It’s too much hassle
It costs a lot of money
People don't like to think about their own mortality and think maybe writing a Will is tempting fate, it is too much hassle, it will cost a lot of money or they don’t feel they have anything to leave anyone.
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.
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.
There are circumstances when a Grant of Representation / Probate will not be needed – such as when the estate passes to the surviving spouse.
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.