Intestacy What does this Mean?

Intestacy is the term given to dying without a will.

What is a Will?

A will is legal document made valid by the signing and witnessing process.

A will is essentially a written declaration of how you would like your estate to be distributed after your death. In your will, you will make gifts of your property and chattels to your intended beneficiaries. This in affect should ensure that your estate is distributed in accordance with your wishes.


Dying without a will is not the only situation where an intestacy can occur. If a will is not deemed valid because it was not signed correctly, or it is considered that the will doesn’t reflect the true wishes of the testator (person writing the will), due to undue influence, then there should be an intestacy.

If one of the intended beneficiaries does not survive the testator, and there is no provision for this in the will, then this could result in the gift failing, a partial intestacy.

For a will to be considered valid, it needs to satisfy the requirements of the Wills Act 1937, and more specifically Section 9. This means it needs to be signed and witnessed correctly. Not doing so can mean that your will can be considered invalid, and you die intestate.

Without a valid will, your estate will be distributed in accordance with some predefined rules. This might not be how you would like to gift your properties.

The rules that govern intestacy – ‘The Intestacy Rules’, are set out legislation. The Administration of Estates Act 1925, and the Estates Act 1952, are the primary pieces of legislation governing estates.

Please note if you are not married to your partner, and are simply a cohabiting couple, then you have fewer rights under English and Welsh Law, in terms of intestacy.

On the ‘Gov Website’, you can go through the estate process to identify who would inherit your estate, should you pass away without a will.

Our advice has always been to write a will, it can save considerable disappointment, time delays and costs if you do so.