Intestacy FAQs for Beneficiaries

Here are some frequently asked questions about Intestacy: if you require any further advice please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Do I have to pay a Probate Lawyer, or can I handle the Intestacy process myself?

While it is possible and indeed perfectly legally acceptable to handle the intestacy process without a probate solicitor if you are eligible to do so, the process is complicated, time-consuming and you may end up being personally liable for any mistakes or omissions resulting in any eligible party being omitted from the share of the estate. Any claims made after the estate has been divided may lead to you having to settle out of your own funds.

You will also be required as part of the process to prepare and submit the correct Inheritance Tax return forms to the probate registry along with your application for ‘grant of representation’, or ‘grant of letters of administration’. It is inadvisable to handle the intestacy process yourself unless you are suitably skilled and have the appropriate knowledge and resources available to you.

How long does the process take?

In simple cases where the estate is uncomplicated the process can be completed within a few months, however there are a wide variety of situations that might occur that can stretch this timescale out significantly; sometimes it can take years for the process to be completed.

Under what scenarios will the Crown take my estate on my death?

Only if you die without a legally valid will and you have no eligible blood relatives will the Crown take on your estate.

Can a will be deemed invalid?

There are a few situations in which a will can be deemed invalid. These are as follows:

  • If it is made by someone under the age of 18
  • If it is not made voluntarily or it is made while under pressure from someone else
  • If it is made by someone who is not of sound mind
  • If it is not made in writing
  • If it is not signed by the two witnesses in the presence of the person making the will

What happens if a person dies intestate with outstanding debts?

Any outstanding debts, such as a mortgage or an outstanding loan would be deducted from the estate first, before the rest of the estate is shared among relatives according to the rules of intestacy. In all cases, Inheritance Tax, where applicable, will need to be paid before the estate can be divided.

What is partial intestacy?

Partial Intestacy occurs when someone has only accounted for part of their estate in their will. An example would be someone clearly leaving their house to someone, but failing to mention their other assets. In this case the house will go to whomever it was supposed to go to, whereas the rest of the estate will be subject to the rules of intestacy.

What if the beneficiaries to an estate are minors?

If any beneficiaries are under the age of 18 their inheritance will be held in trust until their 18th birthday.

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