What is intestacy?

Written by Terry Johansson | 13th September 2013

When a person dies without a Will, or without a valid Will, they are said to have died ‘intestate’. This means that their property or ‘estate’ (e.g. flat, car, contents of bank accounts, shares, and furniture) will be divided amongst the deceased’s relatives in accordance with the strict rules of intestacy.

Before the deceased’s estate can be divided, Letters of Administration must be granted to give a person authority to deal with the estate. The estate should not be dealt with before Letters of Administration have been granted. The responsibilities of the person granted the Letters, called the Administrator, are similar to those of an executor who is given authority to deal with an estate under the deceased’s will.

There are situations where a person may die ‘partially intestate’. This occurs if a person had a will but for some reason various gifts in the will cannot be distributed or if some provisions in the will are found to be invalid by a court. The rules of intestacy also apply in this situation but subject to the valid provisions contained in the will.

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