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What does intestate mean?

When a person dies without having made a valid Will then they are deemed to have died intestate.

Where a person dies having made a valid Will, but part of it is invalid or fails to deal with part of the estate, this is known as a partial intestacy.


What are the Rules of Intestacy?

Where there is a full or partial intestacy the default Rules of Intestacy will apply. The Rules of Intestacy set out how the intestate estate will be distributed.

For deaths occurring after October 2014 the Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014 sets out the Rules of Intestacy.

Below is our flow chart which sets out a simplified overview of the distribution of an intestate estate under the current Rules of Intestacy.


intestacy rules flowchart ammended



Alternatively, here is a useful link to a government website which provides an intestacy calculator, to help calculate how an intestate estate will be distributed under the current Rules of Intestacy:

Please note, for deaths occurring before October 2014 there are different provisions for an intestate estate which are set out under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.


Deeds of Variation

Intestacy will often deliver great injustice and hardship to families. When a person dies intestate, it is possible to vary the application of the Rules of Intestacy with a Deed of Variation. It is important to note that Deeds of Variation must be made within two years from the date of death.

Under certain circumstances a Deed of Variation can also be used to vary the terms of a valid, but unsatisfactory, Will.

For more information on Deeds of Variation please see:


What can Lawson Lewis Blakers do?

We are able to offer specialist advice in relation to the following:-


  • Estate planning
  • Wills
  • Administration estates including intestate estates
  • Deeds of Variation
  • Potential inheritance disputes



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Robin Comber
Chartered Legal Executive

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Holly Maxwell Gumbleton

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Joanna Fildes
Legal Advisor

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Jackie Alexander

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Lucy Robinson
Chartered Legal Executive

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