Losing a parent is incredibly hard, and it can become even harder when disputes over inheritance crop up, especially between siblings.
You might be wondering what rights you have regarding your parents' money and property after their passing, particularly if they died without a will or you feel you've been unfairly left out.
This article will provide you with clear and simple guidance on sibling inheritance rights after the death of a parent in the United Kingdom including:
Sibling inheritance rights after parents death
Are all siblings entitled to inheritance
How is inheritance divided among siblings
Sibling rights to property after a parents death
Sibling inheritance disputes
When to get legal help
Do siblings have inheritance rights?
In the United Kingdom, whether or not siblings have inheritance rights depends on whether there is a valid will.
If there's a will
If your parents made a will, it should outline exactly how their estate, including money and property, should be distributed among siblings, friends, family members, and others.
Siblings are entitled to their share as set out in the will.
If there isn't a will
In the absence of a will, the inheritance process follows the rules of intestacy. These rules determine how the estate will be divided among surviving family members.
Contrary to common misconceptions, this doesn’t mean the eldest child inherits everything.
Instead, there is a hierarchy, rooted in law, that prioritises close family members, starting with spouses or civil partners, extending to children under certain condition.
Are all siblings entitled to inheritance?
If a parent dies intestate, biological children are entitled to equal shares in the estate in certain circumstances.
This includes children whose parents are not married or have not registered a civil partnership and adopted children, including adopted step-children.
Step-children who haven’t been officially adopted by the parent have no automatic right to inherit from a parents estate.
How is inheritance divided among siblings?
If there is no surviving married or civil partner, the children of a parent who has died without a will inherit the whole estate and it will be divided equally between siblings.
If there is a surviving partner, the child of the parent and their siblings only inherit from the estate if the valuation of the estate is over £322,000. In these cases, siblings inherit equal shares one half of the value of the estate above £322,000.
When there is a valid will in place, the division of inheritance among siblings is clearly outlined according to the wishes of the parents. The will typically states how the estate, which includes money, property, and other assets, should be shared out among the beneficiaries, including the siblings.
The specifics can vary widely from one family to another, as they depend entirely on the parents' decisions. In some cases, parents may choose to divide their estate equally among their children, ensuring each sibling receives the same share.
However, it's essential to note that the division doesn't have to be equal. Parents can allocate different proportions to their children based on their individual preferences, circumstances, or needs.
Sibling inheritance FAQs
Does the eldest child inherit everything?
No, the eldest child does not inherit everything in the absence of a will in the UK. In cases where a person dies without a valid will (intestacy), the distribution of their estate is not based on birth order or age. Instead, the estate is divided equally between siblings.
The rules of intestacy prioritise close family members but do not give the entire estate to one child, regardless of their age or birth order.
Can a parent leave everything to one child?
Yes, a parent can leave everything to one child if they have a valid will in place.
In the UK, when a person creates a will, they have the freedom to say how their estate should be distributed after their passing. This includes the option to leave everything to a single child if that is their wish.
It's important to note that while a parent has the legal right to make such a decision, they should communicate their intentions clearly and ensure that the will is properly executed to prevent any potential disputes or challenges after their passing.
What rights do siblings have to property after a parents death?
As a sibling in the UK, you have specific rights to your parents' property and estate following their passing:
According to the will
If there is a valid will, sibling's rights to property are outlined in the will. The will specifies how the deceased's estate should be shared out, including money, property, and assets. Siblings named as beneficiaries in the will are entitled to inherit in accordance with the instructions provided by their parents.
According to Intestacy Rules
Siblings have rights to inherit in certain circumstances. In the absence of a will, the estate, including property, is divided equally among the siblings.
Siblings who inherit a property together can either agree to keep the property, sell the property and share the profits equally, or buy each other out.
Inheritance disputes between siblings
Sibling inheritance rights can sometimes lead to disputes or complications, particularly when there is no will or when disagreements arise among siblings, which can escalate quickly and strain family relationships.
It is possible for a sibling to bring a claim against an estate of a parent where ‘reasonable financial provision’ has not been made for them under the terms of the will or on the intestacy of the deceased parent.
This is known as an Inheritance Act Claim, and this can be made within six months of the date of the Grant of Probate.
In these situations the courts may consider a range of factors including: the size of the estate, financial needs and resources of the sibling and other beneficiaries, and any physical or mental disability of applicants and beneficiaries.
In such cases, it is advisable to seek legal assistance. Experienced wills, trust and probate solicitors can help mediate disputes and provide guidance on the strength of your case and how to undertake, or defend, such a claim.
Get legal help with sibling inheritance disputes
Losing a parent is extremely challenging, and understanding inheritance laws shouldn't add to the burden. By clarifying the rights of siblings after parents' death, we hope to give you the knowledge you need during this sensitive time.
If you find yourself in a situation where sibling disputes are escalating, it's crucial to seek legal advice promptly. Experienced solicitors can mediate and provide legal guidance to resolve disputes amicably, preserving family relationships as much as possible.
Sibling inheritance disputes can be easily avoided by making a will.
For advice on making wills, changing an existing will, or further help understanding sibling inheritance law in England and Wales, tell us about your case to get a fixed fee quote from the best wills, trust, and probate solicitors in the UK.