Q&A - Covering all eventualities in a Will to avoid intestate succession

Q: My unmarried uncle has recently died, just six months after the death of my father, who was his only brother. In his Will my uncle named my father as the sole beneficiary, but did not name any other beneficiary in the event that my father should die before him.  What will now happen to my uncle's estate?

A:  As your late uncle made no provision in his Will to cover the eventuality that your father died before him, your uncle will be deemed to have died intestate, despite leaving a Will. His estate will therefore be distributed in accordance with the Rules of Intestacy, with the law dictating how his Estate will be divided amongst surviving family members. 

If your uncle had any children, legitimate or illegitimate, those children will be entitled to share his Estate equally, if they are 18 years or above. If your paternal grandparents are still alive then, depending upon its value, they may also be able to share in the estate with the children.  If there are no children, then your grandparents, or the survivor of them, will inherit the estate in entirety.

If your grandparents died before your uncle and he was childless, his Estate will be distributed equally between any surviving siblings.  If there are no surviving siblings, his Estate will fall to be distributed amongst the children of any siblings of the whole blood who predeceased him.  Therefore, if your father was your uncle's only sibling, you and your brothers and sisters will be the only persons entitled to share in his Estate.

Where a person dies without a will, or the will is inadequate, the distribution of their estate could potentially become very complicated. It is therefore essential when preparing a will to consider every eventuality and to ensure that your will is updated periodically to avoid the uncertainty of intestate succession.