What is ‘intestacy’?
‘Intestacy’ refers to the circumstances whereupon a person dies without having made a valid will or other binding declaration to indicate how their estate should be distributed.
Intestacy may also apply where a will or declaration has been made, but where the document only relates to a part of the estate (i.e. some assets are not distributed); the remaining estate forms the “intestate estate”.
An intestate estate must be shared out in accordance with the rules of intestacy and despite the complexities that this brings, it is still all too common an occurrence.
What are the rules of intestacy?
First and foremost, the rules of intestacy exist to stipulate who should benefit from the deceased’s estate and in what order.
The order itself also determines who can act as administrator for the estate, following an application to the Probate Registry for ‘Letters of Administration’*. The administrator is responsible for distributing the estate properly and handling any Inheritance Tax (IHT) obligations, alongside other related issues.
Sorting out an intestate estate usually takes more time, so the sooner you apply for probate, the sooner the you can begin to distribute the estate to the beneficiaries. As per the rules of intestacy, the order in which surviving relations will inherit runs as follows: