What Happens to a Property if a Person Dies Without Leaving a Will?

older man signing business documents for cash house buying paperwork

When a loved one dies without leaving a will, the property is shared out based on the following rules. The deceased, who is also called the intestate person and the entire estate belonging to them is divided using the rules of intestacy. This often results in a spouse or civil partner, or direct decedents can inherit different possessions that are divided equally. If a will exists, items can be explicitly specified to various parties and outstanding items divided fairly.

Who can’t inherit a property?

Not everyone has the automatic right to all possessions unless they are explicitly stated in a will. This includes:

  • Couples that aren’t married or are in a civil partnership
  • Relations through marriage
  • Carers and attendants
  • Friends

If no will is present

If your loved one has passed and hasn’t left a will with specific instructions regarding the property, then there are a few different outcomes possible.

If you were not married or in a civil partnership, then you’re not entitled to the property or estate. However, if you were a spouse or civil partner with the deceased, then you are entitled to the estate even without a will. This also applies if separated but not divorced.

When it comes to immediate decendents like children or grandchildren, neither are entitled unless a will is present and stated it. That said, if the spouse inherits a property, they can decide to sell it and divide the proceeds as they wish, including to decendents.

Jointly owned property

When a couple buys a property, this can be done in two ways:

  • Beneficial joint tenants
  • Tenants in common

This is important as a home bought using beneficial joint tenants will allow the property to pass automatically to the partner.

Likewise, this is the same process for sharing money and other assets. If a contract created using tenants in common is used, then there is no automatic sharing of assets with the partner.

Can minors inherit properties?

Children can inherit property and other assets, but if there is a surviving parent, then this is limited to £250,000. Any assets will need to be split equally among children if there’s more than one. This is because the surviving family will often live in the property until the children have become adults and then sold to provide their share of the inheritance.

If both parents pass away, then children will inherit everything, including adopted children. That said, the estate is often held by trustees until the children reach 18. Additionally, trustees will manage finances and assets on behalf of the children until they reach maturity. 

Bona Vacantia

If nobody is eligible to inherit the estate, including property, it’s turned over to the crown. This process is called bona vacantia, and the treasury solicitor determines what happens to the state, including properties.

If you come to the possession of a property that you don’t want to keep and want a quick and effective way of selling it fast, then talk to Shyft. We are one of the largest cash property buyers and use our cash reserves to buy directly from you based on market fair value. To assess this, we use the surrounding property values to establish what yours is.

As a result, we can often complete a purchase within seven days from initial contact or 28 days in more complex scenarios. Either way, this is much faster than the traditional process of selling your home. We also charge you nothing irrespective of if you decide to sell during our engagement.

If you’re interested, please give us a call to find out more!