Unmarried partners, lesbian or gay partners not in a civil partnership, relations by marriage, close friends, and carers. However, even if you can’t inherit under the rules of intestacy, you may be able to apply to court for reasonable financial provision from the estate if you were dependent upon the deceased financially at the date of death. For example, if you were living with the person who has died, you would not automatically inherit under the rules of intestacy but you may be able to establish a case whereby you could apply to court for financial help. You must have lived with them for at least two years. If you were always treated by the person who died as a child of the family, you could apply to the court for help.
What happens if there are no surviving relatives? The estate passes to the Crown (known as bona vacantia). The Treasury Solicitor is then responsible for dealing with the estate. The Crown can make grants from the estate but does not have to agree to them. If you are not a surviving relative, but you believe you have a good reason to apply for a grant, you will need legal advice.
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