If there is no will, the following are entitled to wind up the estate, and only when there is no member of a group who is willing to take out a grant will a member of the next group be considered:
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1. Husband or wife or registered civil partner
2. Sons or daughters, or their descendants if the son or daughter died before the deceased
4. Brothers or sisters of the whole blood, or their descendants if the brother or sister died before the deceased
5. Brothers and sisters of the half blood, or their descendants if the brother or sister died before the deceased
7. Uncles or aunts of the whole blood, or their descendants if the uncle or aunt died before the deceased
8. Uncles or aunts of the half blood, or their descendants if the uncle or aunt died before the deceased
9. The Crown
10. Creditors of the deceased
All those within each group are equally entitled, but only blood and adoptive relationships count, not step relations. Adoption severs the relationship between the birth parent and child for this purpose but illegitimacy is ignored, and legitimate and illegitimate claimants have equal rights.
If a person entitled to apply allows himself to be passed over and does not apply, he cannot apply later after someone in a higher group has been given a grant and he cannot reserve a right to apply later. A grant will not be given to members of one class jointly with members of another class or to anyone under the age of 18.
The number of personal representatives
A probate registry will not give a grant of representation to more than four personal representatives to act at the same time, even if a will appoints separate executors for different parts of the deceased’s estate, for example literary executors for the testator’s literary estate and general executors for the remaining estate.
In the case of letters of administration, the grant is usually given to the first of those equally entitled to apply but if there is dispute between them as to whom the grant should be given, the registry will favour those it considers are most likely to administer the estate to the best advantage of the beneficiaries and the creditors.
If the beneficiaries of an intestate include someone entitled to a life interest or beneficiary under the age of eighteen, at least two people from the above categories must jointly obtain the right to wind up the estate from the probate registry.