When an individual dies intestate – meaning they did not have a will in place at the time of death – it can create a real challenge for relatives and easily lead to an estate dispute. While the most common reason for a person to die intestate is because they haven't taken the time to draft a will, there are a number of other times when a person can be declared to have died intestate.
One of these is a case of partial intestacy, where an individual has passed away without fully allocating their possessions within their will. This could mean they have underestimated the value of their estate, leaving an excess value that hasn't been included in a will. Alternatively, it could mean that a significant asset or assets were not included in a will at all, as a result of an inherited property for example, that was acquired after the will was written.
So what happens when a person dies in a state of partial intestacy?
As with a condition of full intestacy, the deceased's assets will be distributed according to a predetermined formula by Law. This allows for the unallocated assets to be distributed to a spouse or children first, with parents, siblings and extended relatives perhaps also eligible for a share.
The allocation of assets will depend on the size of the part of the estate that has not been assigned by will.
If there are no valid recipients, the unassigned share of the deceased's estate will pass to the Crown.
Anyone looking to avoid a position of intestacy, either partial or complete, will need to ensure they consult with a wills and estates lawyer. They will be able to assist with the will-drafting process and can provide advice on the best way to formulate your will and distribute your estate.