A person who dies without a will is known as ‘dying intestate’.
This can make sorting out their estate a bit more complicated because the law decides who inherits the estate according to certain criteria called ‘intestacy rules’.
If there’s a relative or friend who is willing and able to sort out the estate, they can apply for a ‘grant of letters of administration’ - also known as grant of representation, grant of probate, or confirmation (in Scotland).
This grant makes them the ‘administrator’ of the estate and allows them to value the estate, pay any debts and distribute the estate according to the intestacy rules.
Sorting out an estate without a will usually takes more time. So, the sooner you apply for probate, the sooner you can distribute the estate to heirs.
If there are no surviving relatives, the person’s estate passes to the Crown.
HM Treasury is then responsible for dealing with the estate.
If you choose to take on the job of administering the estate, you can:
- use a probate specialist, or
- sort out the estate yourself.