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I am married but my husband and I do not have valid wills in place. What would happen to our estate if we had an accident and died at the same time?

A. When there are simultaneous deaths it can be difficult to establish who died first, which can, therefore, have an impact on the distribution of estates. The law has made a provision for such circumstances.

The commorientes rule applies for the purpose of determining title to property. It states that if two or more people die in circumstances where it is not possible to tell who died first, the deaths are presumed to have occurred in order of seniority, so the younger is deemed to survive to elder. The Rules of Intestacy would then apply to both estates and, potentially, the bulk of your combined estate could pass to the youngest’s next of kin. The Rules of Intestacy are not as straightforward as you may think and therefore we always recommend that you seek advice about your particular circumstances and consider making Wills so that you can ensure that your estate passes in accordance with your wishes.

To speak to Claire Clarke about any aspect of Probate Law please call 01572 725774 or email or

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