My Husband Died Without A Will What Do I Do?
The loss of a loved one is always going to be traumatic and difficult to cope with and this can be especially so when it involves the loss of a husband or wife. Death is a part of life and a process that we must all face at one time or other. Some of us are more practical about the subject than others and will ensure that both they and their partner have drawn up a will. Others, however, find the subject too difficult to discuss or even think about and it is under these circumstances people often find themselves when their partner passes away. We have received a number of emails from people stating my “husband died without a will what do I do” so below are the key facts and things to consider.
Dealing with the death of a husband without a will can be distressing at what is already a difficult time so it is wise to instruct a solicitor experienced in this area of the law.
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Who can deal with your husband’s things?
The legal authority to deal with a deceased person’s Estate rests with what is known as the ‘Personal Representative’. Selection of who will become this person depends upon the exact circumstances prevailing.
If your husband had a will in place then this appointed person would have been named in the will. He or she would then have the legal authority to deal with your husbands affairs.
Things become a little more complex if your husband didn’t have a will. This is due to the fact that there is no appointed person to take care of all of his affairs. In order for someone to be legally recognised as the Personal Representative, he/she must apply to the Probate Registry for a Court Order called a Grant of Representation. The Probate Registry only issues the Grant of Representation to someone if they can demonstrate that they are entitled to receive it.
Under these circumstances, the order of priority of people who are entitled to be appointed as the Personal Representative follows the same order of priority as the Intestacy Rules, i.e the beneficiaries of the Estate are entitled to be the Personal Representative. As such, if you are the sole beneficiary of your husband’s Estate under the Intestacy Rules then you’ll also be the Personal Representative entitled to administer his Estate.
What are the Intestacy Rules?
The intestacy rules basically set out who should inherit from your husband’s estate and in what proportions.
The distribution of an Estate under the Intestacy Rules is determined by:
- What relatives survive the deceased, and
- The value of the deceased’s Estate
If you are the surviving spouse then what you are entitled to receive from your husband’s Estate will also depend upon those two factors.
Since 1st October 2014, where a husband dies leaving a surviving spouse but no surviving children or grandchildren, then the spouse is entitled to receive the whole of their husband’s Residuary Estate. A Residuary Estate is what’s left of your husbands estate after all taxes, debts and costs are deducted
If, however, the husband leaves a spouse and children or grandchildren surviving him, then his Residuary Estate is potentially divided differently if the value is worth more than £250,000.
If it is, then the surviving spouse is entitled to receive all of their husband’s personal possessions together with a legacy of £250,000 from his Estate. The remaining amount of his Estate is then divided equally between the surviving spouse and his children.
The legal system does its best to oversee a fair distribution. However, their definition of fair is often at odds with the surviving family members. It should also be remembered that the law can change over time so there are no real certainties as to how an estate might be divided in the future.
The only real way to ensure you or your partner do not find yourself in this situation is to make a will. In this way you will be safe in the knowledge that your intentions will be known after your passing.
If you do find yourself in the position that your husband has died without a will, it is essential that you contact an expert solicitor who can talk you through the process sensitively and present you with your options.
How to Contact our Wills and Probate Solicitors
To speak to our Wills and Probate solicitors today, simply call us on 0161 929 0121, or allow a member of the team to get back to you by filling in our online contact form. We are well known across the country and can assist wherever you are based. We also have offices based in Cheshire and London.