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What happens if there is no will and more than one person is equally entitled to a grant?

View profile for Leah Merrifield
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When somebody dies without leaving a will they are said to have died ‘intestate’. Rule 22 of the Non-Contentious Probate Rules 1987 sets out an order of priority as to who will be entitled to obtain a grant of Letters of Administration, and to administer the estate, when somebody dies intestate.

It is often the case that more than one person will be equally entitled to administer the Deceased’s estate. For example, if the deceased was not survived by a spouse, then their children will all be equally entitled. Sometimes the children will take out a grant of Letters of Administration together, and sometimes one child will administer the estate on their own.

However, things can become more complicated when there is a dispute between the people who are equally entitled to take out a grant. In this scenario, the court has discretion as to which of the individuals to appoint to carry out the administration of the estate. The court will also consider whether it would be in the best interests of the beneficiaries for an independent third party to be appointed instead.

There are lots of different factors that may or may not be relevant depending on the circumstances, for example:

  • The character of the individuals involved, and any allegations of dishonesty;
  • Whether any of the individuals have been declared bankrupt;
  • The health of the individuals;
  • Conflicts of interest (for example where the estate has a claim against one of the individuals, or a family member of theirs); and
  • Who has the largest share of the estate (it is usual practice to give preference to the individual who inherits the larger share of the estate).

There are other factors that might be relevant depending on the facts of the case.

If you have any concerns regarding the administration of an estate, please contact a member of our private wealth disputes team and they will be happy to assist.