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Q: For a UK Researcher: Intestacy Rules for England in 1937 ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   0 Comments )
Subject: For a UK Researcher: Intestacy Rules for England in 1937
Category: Relationships and Society > Government
Asked by: probonopublico-ga
List Price: $15.00
Posted: 26 Jun 2004 10:46 PDT
Expires: 26 Jul 2004 10:46 PDT
Question ID: 366677
Mrs X died intestate in Chelsea on 19/11/1936.

Administration was granted on 17 March 1937 to her husband and to her
widowed mother, jointly.

She left no issue and I am pretty sure that she had no brothers or sisters.

Her Effects were 1,637 3s

Can you tell me:

1) Would there have been any liability to Death Duties? 

2) How her Estate would have been distributed?

Many thanks.


Clarification of Question by probonopublico-ga on 26 Jun 2004 21:00 PDT
Correction: She may have had a brother.
Subject: Re: For a UK Researcher: Intestacy Rules for England in 1937
Answered By: leli-ga on 27 Jun 2004 02:43 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello Bryan

Thanks for the mental exercise!

The short answer is that Mrs. X's husband would have been entitled to
her personal chattels, 1000 and half the remainder of the estate. The
other half of the remainder would go to the widowed mother. (The
brother would only be relevant if there had been no surviving parent.)

Estate duty would have been payable before the 1000 was allocated to
Mr. X, and was probably about 60, but this figure is only an informed
guess. I haven't found the actual rates in force in 1937 spelt out

The inheritance rules are set out in the Administration of Estates
Act, 1925, which you can see here:
Or use the cached version:

This explains the shares for spouse and parents after the widower
received a lump sum. The "fixed net sum" is more often called a
"statutory legacy", and it seems to have stayed at the same level from
1925 until after the war, i.e. 1000.

"The Administration of Estates Act, 1925, allows to the widow all
personal chattels, a statutory legacy of 1000, and an interest in the
remainder of the estate.
Appointed October, 1950, signed June, presented July, 1951"

"The father had died intestate on 30.4.49 
Under the tables of distribution then in force, the claimant became
entitled to the statutory legacy of 1,000  . ."
Cached version:


Estate duty was introduced in 1894 with a sliding scale of rates,
starting at 1% on 100, and going up to a maximum of 8%. It was
adjusted in the Finance Acts of 1920 and 1930, then increased again in
autumn 1939. I found the best way to get useful information on the
1930s was to search for actual wills posted online, and found one
which is reasonably close to the case in your question.

From 1937:

"And it is hereby certified that an Affidavit for Inland Revenue has
been delivered wherein it is shewn that the gross value of the said
Estate in Great Britain (exclusive of what the said deceased may have
been possessed of or entitled to as a Trustee and not beneficially)
amounts to  2299 - 5 - 0

and that the net value of the personal estate amounts to  1662 - 18 - 10

And it is further certified that it appears by a Receipt signed by an
Inland Revenue Officer on the said Affidavit that  61 - 19 - 3 on
account of Estate Duty and interest on such duty has been paid.

Dated the 15th day of February 1937"

For comparison:

1939 (before the rates were raised):

"net value of the personal estate amounts to 839/19/4.
And it is further certified that it appears by a Receipt signed by an
Inland Revenue Officer on the said affidavit that 16/17/9 on account
of Estate Duty and Interest on such duty has been paid.
Dated the 5th day of May 1939"

There's plenty of information about the introduction of estate duty in 1894 here:

"The rate of duty was to vary from 1 per cent. on an estate between
100 and 500 value, to a maximum of 8 per cent. on an estate of over
1,000,000 value."

Reading this document suggests that the phrase "death duties" comes
from the situation before 1894 when there were three different taxes
payable on settling an estate.

I hope this covers all aspects of your question, but please let me
know if something is missing.

For general interest, I'll show you where I found out that death
duties/estate duty went up so much in 1939. But you may have already
read these diaries?

"Henry 'Chips' Channon, diary entry (14th September, 1939)

The first war budget. At 3.45 Simon rose (he was directly in front of
me) and in unctuous tones not unlike the Archbishop of Canterbury,
opened his staggering budget. He warned the House of its impending
severity yet there was a gasp when he said that Income Tax would be
7/6 in the . The crowded House was dumbfounded, yet took it
good-naturedly enough. Simon went on, and with many a deft blow
practically demolished the edifice of capitalism. One felt like an
Aunt Sally under his attacks (the poor old Guinness trustee, Mr Bland,
could stand it no more, and I saw him leave the gallery) blow after
blow; increased surtax; lower allowances; raised duties on wine,
cigarettes and sugar; substantially increased death duties. It is all
so bad that one can only make the best of it, and re-organise one's
life accordingly."

Best Wishes - Leli

Search strategy

Searches like:

intestate spouse parent

led me to realise I must search for:

Administration of Estates 1925
"statutory legacy" 1925
"statutory legacy" 1000

I explored further with searches like:

"death duties" OR "estate duty" 1894 OR 1920 OR 1930 OR 1939 OR pre-war
"death duties" OR "estate duty" rates OR rate 

and accumulated some general knowledge about estate duty before
deciding that this would be a good strategy:

"Affidavit for Inland Revenue has been delivered" 1937 OR 1936 OR 1938

Request for Answer Clarification by probonopublico-ga on 27 Jun 2004 03:20 PDT
Instead of 'I was great ...'

Please read 'It was great ...'

(That Is the trouble wIth beIng an egomanIac.)

Clarification of Answer by leli-ga on 27 Jun 2004 04:04 PDT
Many thanks for your generosity, Bryan.

Always a pleasure to answer one of your questions - Leli
probonopublico-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $10.00
Absolutely BRILLIANT, Leli ...

I was great to have you working on the case.

Very many thanks.


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