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What Happens If I Die Without A Will?

Updated: Sep 28, 2023

If you die without a Will, it means you have died "intestate." When someone dies intestate, the distribution of their assets and the handling of their estate are determined by the laws of intestacy in the jurisdiction where they lived. Here are some general outcomes that often occur:

  • Distribution of assets: The laws of intestacy typically determine how your assets will be distributed among your surviving family members. The distribution is usually prioritised towards your closest relatives, such as a spouse or children. If you have no immediate family, the assets may go to more distant relatives, such as siblings, parents or grandparents.

  • Probate process: Without a will, the probate process (the legal process of administering your estate) may be more complex and time-consuming. The court will appoint an administrator, typically a family member or a professional executor, to manage the estate. The administrator will identify and inventory your assets, pay off any debts or taxes owed, and distribute the remaining assets according to the laws of intestacy.

  • Guardianship of minor children: If you have minor children and you die without a Will, the court will determine who will become their guardian. The court will consider the best interests of the children and may appoint a guardian based on factors such as the relationship between the potential guardian and the children, their ability to provide care and any expressed preferences by the deceased parent.

  • Higher costs and delays: Without a Will, the probate process may be more expensive and time-consuming. Legal fees, court costs and other expenses may be higher due to the additional work involved in determining the distribution of assets without clear instructions provided by a will.

It's important to note that the laws of intestacy may not align with your personal wishes or priorities. Creating a Will allows you to have more control over the distribution of your assets and provides clear instructions for your loved ones to follow after your passing. It is generally recommended to consult with an attorney or legal professional to help you create a valid Will that reflects your wishes and ensures a smooth transition of your estate.

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Disclaimer: The information on the RJM Solicitors website is for general information only and reflects the position at the date of publication. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be treated as such. If you would like to ensure the commentary reflects current legislation, case law or best practice, please contact

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