On 26th July 2023, the statutory intestacy limit rose from £270,000 to £322,000.

What is intestacy and how might this change affect you?

If an individual passes away without a valid will in place, they are considered to have passed away “intestate”. In contrast, someone who dies with a valid will is termed “testate”. Intestacy can also arise due to:

  1. Marriage: revokes a will unless there is a specific clause to prevent this. So, if you married after making your will, it might now be invalid.
  2. Incorrect execution: Was the will properly witnessed and signed? Execution errors are common and even small mistakes can render a will invalid.

There’s also “partial intestacy” when a will doesn’t account for all assets. For instance, the testator may have specified who should inherit property but then have not specified any terms for their residuary estate such as bank accounts. Dying intestate means your estate is divided by legal standards, which can exclude potential beneficiaries.


Intestacy rules

Updated last in 2014, these rules are specific to England and Wales, with Scotland having its own set. Here’s a quick overview:

Married partners or those in a civil relationship at the time of death


Spouse or civil partner receives all of your personal belonging and the whole of the estate.
Married or civil partners with children Spouse or civil partner to receive the first £322,000


All personal belongings


Half of the remaining estate.


Unmarried with children Your children will receive your estate in its entirety. Divided equally between them. This applies even if your children are from different relationships.


Only biological and adopted children benefit.


Step children do not receive anything regardless as to how long you have been a step parent. A will is needed to ensure they benefit if you would like them too.


Your partner, if you have one is not entitled to inherit.

Partners or cohabiting but not married or in civil partnership Your partner is not entitled to your estate.


A will is needed to ensure they can benefit.

Married and separated but not divorced.

Currently have a new partner.

Your wife/husband even though you are separated will still be entitled to the entire of your estate.


Your partner is not entitled to anything.

Married but separated with children. Not divorced.

New partner

Spouse or civil partner to receive the first £322,000


All personal belongings


Half of the remaining estate.


The other half is to be divided equally between all biological and adopted children.


Your partner will not inherit. Neither will any children of your partner.


Single person.

Never married and do not have a partner or children.


Your surviving parents would inherit your estate in equal shares.

If there are no surviving parents your estate will be distributed as per strict rules but could then benefit;


1)      Siblings –  equally between them. If a brother or sister has passed and leaves behind children your nieces/nephews can inherit their parents share.

2)       Half brothers or sisters. If they have passed and also have children, their children can receive the parents share.

3)      If the above does not apply, your grandparents can receive your estate in equal shares.

4)      Aunties and uncles closely followed by your cousin if your auntie/uncle has passed away.

5)      Half aunties and uncles can inherit your estate, if they have passed away and leave children their children can inherit their share.

6)      If there are none of the above your estate will pass to the crown.




If the outlined scenarios match your situation, a will might seem unnecessary. However, we always advocate for one. It lets you make specific requests as to any burial or cremation wishes, guardianship for your children, and gifts of specific items or possessions. You can also make provision for any pets that you may have at the time of your death and benefit close friends.

While the increased limit is beneficial, especially for uncomplicated estates under £322,000, it doesn’t solve problems for larger estates, blended families, or those with more complex circumstances.

If unsure, always seek professional advice. If you have an existing will and have married or had any change in circumstance it is always worth a consultation to determine how these changes may have impacted your estate and existing provisions.


couple happy about increased Statutory Intestacy Limit
Statutory Intestacy Limit Update increased in 2023


Choose the Best for Your Future

Navigating the intricacies of intestacy and estate planning can be complex, but you don’t have to do it alone. At Optimal Solicitors, we pride ourselves on offering clear, compassionate, and expert advice tailored to your individual needs. With a proven track record of ensuring our clients’ wishes are both respected and legally protected, we’re the partner you need in safeguarding your legacy. Don’t leave your future to chance. Choose Optimal Solicitors, and let’s create a clear, legally sound plan for your estate together.