Contrary to what you may believe, having a bloodline connection doesn’t always mean you are an heir to an estate. Although this is often the case, there are different factors which determine a person’s entitlement. Blood or not.
In most situations the heirs to an estate are direct family. The most entitled person in a case of intestacy will always be the spouse. Simply being a long-time partner is not enough to be considered an heir to the estate. You must be legally married and have no agreement in place voiding them of inheritance in event of your death. A divorce will also remove any potential to inherit from an estate. This is why it is crucial for separated couples to legally divorce. Even if you have a new partner, your legally married spouse is still entitled to your estate.
Following spouses, children are next entitled to an estate. Children must be blood related to you unless they are adopted. Adopted children have the same level of entitlement as blood children. All children must inherit the estate equally unless outlined differently in any Will. The only reason why a spouse or children will not inherit an estate is if stated differently in a Will.
The purpose of a will is to ensure your estate is distributed exactly how you wish. Without a will your estate will be distributed to the closest blood heir regardless of your wishes. Therefore, writing a will is highly important when planning your estate. You may wish for a certain person to inherit opposed to your closest blood relative due to estrangement or having an unmarried partner to name a few reasons. This is only possible with a will.
Moreover, with a will you can plan for your estate to be distributed how you wish for multiple beneficiaries. For instance, you may want one beneficiary to inherit a house, another to inherit a sum of money, another to inherit your antiques, and so on.
In today’s age children being born outside of marriage is extremely regular. However, many years ago it wasn’t as common and was even frowned upon. According to the Family Law Reform Act 1987, an illegitimate child of the deceased has the same entitlement as child born with both parents married. However, complications can arise. If the deceased father is not named on the birth certificate it may prove difficult to prove any paternal connection and therefore entitlement to his estate. In these instances, DNA tests can prove a bloodline connection if required.
The line of entitlement after direct family can vary depending on your family tree and structure. In instances of no spouse and children, the line will go back to your parents. Most parents tend not to outlive their children, so in that instance, the deceased’s siblings would become beneficiaries. Half siblings then have entitlement if the deceased has no full blood siblings.
If there are none of the above, Grandparents then become the highest entitled beneficiaries. You cannot follow the line up any higher than grandparents and must then follow the line back down and across if the grandparents have also passed. This means that you must then follow lines of the deceased aunts an uncles. If aunt and uncles are still alive they become the highest entitled beneficiaries (again, depending on all the above being deceased). If an aunt or uncle has passed, the inheritance will then pass down to their children. The intestates cousins. Following these lines can naturally lead to many beneficiaries, due to some aunts and uncles passing and the inheritance passing to cousins. All blood aunts and uncles will have the same level of entitlement. If one passes their children will then take their place in inheritance and be just as equal as aunts and uncles despite being a cousin.
In rare instances, none of the above are present to inherit from an estate. This would then leave entitlement to half uncles and aunts and then their children. This is the last possible line of entitlement before the estate is passed to the crown. To learn more about Heir Hunters and how we may help you please click here. For more articles like this please read our other blogs and follow us on LinkedIn.