Intestacy rules: When do brothers and sisters inherit?

Our inheritance dispute team look at the intestacy rules and asks, when do brothers and sisters inherit?

What happens when someone dies without a will leaving no spouse, children or parents? This is a question we have been asked many times recently on our Free Inheritance Helpline. This might be because there appears to be some confusion among commentators on the internet, with the answer changing according to which website you visit!

The intestacy rules

The intestacy rules are the regulations which apply when a person dies without a Will. These rules provide a specific order of people who will inherit the estate, based upon their relationship to the deceased.

For a full list of the rules in the various scenarios which can arise on an intestate person’s death (i.e. depending upon which members of the family survive the deceased) see our sister site:-

No Spouse, No Children, No Parents, No Will: When do brothers and sisters inherit?

In these circumstances, if the deceased left a sibling (brother or sister) then they will inherit the estate. If there is more than one of them then they will inherit in equal shares. However they must be related to the deceased by blood (i.e. not step-siblings nor half-siblings who are related via the blood of another parent).

What if a Sibling has Pre-Deceased?

If one of the siblings died before the deceased then the destination of their share depends upon whether they left any children of their own.

If they left children then that sibling’s share will pass equally to their children (if any of those children had predeceased, leaving children, then those children receive their parent’s share equally). This onward chain of children of predeceased relatives benefitting is often referred to using the Latin legal term, “per stirpes”.

If a sibling left no children then their share passes equally between the siblings that have survived the deceased.

An Example

A common enquiry to our Inheritance Helpline is as follows:-

Deceased (D) dies leaving no spouse, no children and no surviving parents. He leaves 2 siblings who survived him (A and B) and had one other sibling who pre-deceased him (C). However C left behind children of his own who have survived D; E and F.

Question:- Does the estate pass to A and B only (in 2 equal shares) or does some of it pass to E and F?

Answer:- The estate will be divided into 3 equal shares, 1/3 will go to A, 1/3 will go to B and the remaining 1/3 (what would have been C’s share) will be split equally between E and F (i.e. E and F will receive 1/6 each).

How we can help

If you require further guidance on ‘when do brothers and sisters inherit?’ then call our free legal helpline on 0333 888 0409 or send an email to us at [email protected]

Please note that this article relates to the law as it was in August 2019. Please refer to us for an up to date appraisal of the current legal position on intestacy.

Intestacy rules: When do brothers and sisters inherit?