Rules of intestacy are a complex set of rules that apply if you die without a Will in place. They do not take into account you personal circumstances for example the rules of intestacy may dictate that you estate goes to your sister even though you may not have spoken for 40 years and your partner of 40 years get nothing. Which may only be resolved after long and expensive legal argument if at all.
Many people do not realise that step children do not inherit under the rules of intestacy even if you brought them up as your own and it was your intention you estate could go to other distant relatives or even the crown.
Remember that you children could become step children if your wife remarried and then died before her new husband your children are now his step children, he would have inherited your wife’s estate (which was your estate) but if he then died his estate (comprising of you estate) is then distributed via the rules of intestate where there is no mention of your children. Even if he wanted to do the right thing and give part of the estate to your children that would be classed as a gift not inheritance and full capital gains tax could apply.
This chart below is the most relevant for today, but these rules have changed over time there are also regional differences relating to Scotland and Northern Ireland. This chart is just to show how complex the rules of intestacy are and highlight the importance of having a will.
If there are any terms that you do not fully understand refer to the glossary