Sometimes creating a Will can involve a significant amount of crystal ball gazing about how you should distribute your assets as often parts of it hinge on the presumption that you will be the first of you and your spouse to pass.

Unfortunately, there are occasions where two or more people may die within a close time frame of each another, or in an accident together.

Without the proper preparation, such a situation may change how your estate is managed.

It can be particularly difficult when two people named each other as the primary beneficiaries in each other’s Wills but pass away in an accident or other event which makes it difficult to tell who survived the other. In this case a piece of legislation called the Simultaneous Deaths Act 1958 will likely apply to their property.

How the Simultaneous Deaths Act would distribute an estate

The Act states that if a person dies and leaves a Will then it shall take effect as if they had survived the other person and had died immediately after the fact. The Act also gives clarity to how specific gifts, property and life insurance policies will be dealt with.


If the Will purported to leave a gift to another deceased individual then that gift would be void and that property becomes a part of the residue unless the Will states otherwise.

Life Insurance and other policies

Similarly, any life insurance policies that another deceased individual would be entitled to claim (either in accordance with the Will or intestacy) would be distributed as if that deceased person survived and then died immediately afterwards. This means that if you name your spouse as the beneficiary then their estate will receive the funds.


If two people pass away who jointly owned property then that will be treated as if they owned the property as tenants in common with each party owning an equal share. Therefore, that share in the property will be distributed in accordance with who would be entitled to inherit either under intestacy or their Will.

How should you properly prepare?

It is always wise to ensure that you have an up to date Will that accommodates for any unexpected events. Leaving it in the hands of intestacy laws (which apply where a person dies without a Will) can be incredibly stressful and difficult for loved ones as they likely would have to apply to the court to administer the estate.

By creating a well thought-out Will, you also have the opportunity to consider things such as who you want to be the guardian of your children and who will receive the bulk of your estate in the event that you both pass away. It may also be a good idea to have a mirror Will where you and your partner have the same beneficiaries to avoid conflict between your families.

It is never easy to contemplate tragedies such as simultaneous deaths but making sure you have properly thought through and well documented your wishes will ease the burden on your loved ones by ensuring they are adequately provided for if the inconceivable happened.

Leading law firms committed to helping clients cost-effectively will have a range of fixed-price Initial Consultations to suit most people’s needs in quickly learning what their options are.  At Rainey Collins we have an experienced team who can answer your questions and put you on the right track.