A widow in the United Kingdom is suing her two children, her one-year-old son and three-year old-daughter, over her late husband’s estate.  Taryn Dielle launched an action in London’s High Court claiming that the country’s intestacy laws do not provide her with enough money to care for her children.


Her husband, a London millionaire, died in 2007 without leaving a Will.  As he died intestate, his estate, worth about £2,231,201 (approximately 4.5 million dollars), was distributed in accordance with the United Kingdom’s intestacy rules. According to those rules, Ms. Dielle is to receive the statutory legacy and £50,000.00 ($100,000) per year in interest from her late husband’s estate, while her two children inherit the rest of the estate.

The United Kingdom’s intestacy rules provide that when someone dies intestate, leaving a spouse and issue, the surviving spouse receives all personal chattels, a lump sum of £125,000 (just over $250,000 dollars) referred to as the statutory legacy, and a life interest in one half of the residue. The surviving spouse can only receive the interest from the residue and cannot encroach upon the capital. The issue of the Deceased receive one half of any excess over the statutory legacy and ultimately they receive the other half of the residue when the surviving spouse dies. To contrast the UK law with Canada’s intestacy succession law, please read David Smith’s blog on intestacy distribution.


This will be an interesting case to follow and is already being referred to as an example that highlights the importance of estate planning.

Thanks for reading,

Diane Vieira