Heir tracing – Who is entitled to inherit?
If you’re trying to find the rightful heirs to an estate, you’ll need to know who’s entitled to inherit under the laws of intestacy.
Firstly, UK inheritance law states that a beneficiary must be related by blood. This in itself poses many questions.
Are half-brothers/sisters entitled to inherit?
Yes, they are blood kin because they share a parent. The children of half-siblings can also inherit.
Can step relations inherit?
No, step brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers etc. have no blood link with the deceased.
What about adopted children?
A child who is legally adopted has the same rights as a biological child. On the other hand, an adopted child has no rights to make a claim on the estate of their biological parents.
What happens if the deceased was adopted?
The deceased’s adopted family have the right to claim the estate.
How it works
The rules of intestacy consist of a hierarchy which gives preferences to the closest blood relatives of the deceased. This is as follows:
Spouse or Civil partner
Uncles & Aunts
First Cousin once removed
An estranged spouse is still entitled.
It does not matter whether children are illegitimate.
Issue (Offspring) automatically inherit in place of siblings/uncles/aunts/cousins who are deceased.
Uncles and aunts by marriage are not entitled, nor are brother/sister in-laws.
First cousin once removed refers to the children of the deceased’s cousin – ‘removed’ simply means they are not of the same generation.
If there are none of the above, the Crown gets it.
The Treasury do consider claims from close friends, carers and employees of the deceased in cases where they had no surviving relatives. However, this is rare. Supporting evidence of the relationship must be provided, documenting how long you’ve know them, the nature of the relationship, proof that the deceased would want you to inherit.