Children of the intestate person inherit if there is no surviving married or civil partner. If you are a surviving partner, then the children will inherit only if the estate is valued at over £250,000. If there are two or more children, the children will inherit in equal shares:
- one half of the value of the estate above £250,000 and
- the other half of the value of the estate above £250,000 when the surviving partner dies.
All the children of the parent who has died intestate inherit equally from the estate. This also applies where a parent has children from different relationships. A child whose parents are not married or have not registered a civil partnership can inherit from the estate of a parent who dies intestate. These children can also inherit from grandparents or great-grandparents who have died intestate. Adopted children (including step-children who have been adopted) have rights to inherit under the rules of intestacy. But otherwise you have to be a biological child in order to inherit.
Children under 18 do not receive their inheritance immediately. It is managed by trustees on the child’s behalf until they reach the age of 18.
If there is no surviving partner, the children of a person who has died intestate inherit the whole estate. This applies however much the estate is worth. If there are two or more children, the estate will be divided equally between them.
A grandchild or great grandchild cannot inherit from the estate of an intestate person unless their parent or grandparent has died before the intestate person. The grandchildren and great grandchildren will inherit equal shares of the share to which their parent or grandparent would have been entitled.
Parents, brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews of the intestate person may inherit under the rules of intestacy. This will depend on a number of circumstances:
- whether there is a surviving married or civil partner;
- whether there are children, grandchildren or great grandchildren;
- in the case of nephews and nieces, whether the parent directly related to the person who has died is also dead; and
- the amount of the estate.
Other relatives may have a right to inherit if the person who died intestate had no surviving married partner or civil partner, children, grandchildren, great grand-children, parents, brothers, sisters, nephews or nieces. The order of priority amongst other relatives is as follows:
- uncles and aunts
Thanks very much to Punam Denley, a partner at the International Family Law Group LLP for reviewing and to David Hodson, also partner at the International Family Law Group LLP, who reviewed an earlier version which appeared in A Parent’s Guide to the Law by Jon Robins (LawPack , 2009). Stephen Lawson, a litigation partner at Forshaws Davies Ridgway LLP assisted with the section on the CSA.
Jon is editor of the Justice Gap. He is a freelance journalist. Jon's books include The First Miscarriage of Justice (Waterside Press, 2014), The Justice Gap (LAG, 2009) and People Power (Daily Telegraph/LawPack, 2008). Jon is a journalism lecturer at Winchester University and a visiting senior fellow in access to justice at the University of Lincoln. He is twice winner of the Bar Council's journalism award (2015 and 2005) and is shortlisted for this year's Criminal Justice Alliance's journalism award