Reforms simplifying what happens when someone dies without leaving a will came into force on 1 October.
Among the changes, which are outlined in the new Inheritance and Trustees' Powers Act, are that, when someone who has no children dies intestate, their whole estate will pass to their spouse.
Previously, a complex set of criteria were used which, in some cases, allocated parts of a deceased's estate to several family members.
Additionally, when someone dies intestate and they do have children, the way their estate is split between their spouse and children has also been simplified.
A large number of people die without leaving a will
The government has also closed a loophole to make sure children who are adopted don't lose their inheritance after their parent's death.
The Ministry of Jutice said the reforms bring the law into line "with the expectations of modern society" and will make the process easier to manage for relatives and friends.
Justice Minister Lord Faulks said: "We want to make sure that when someone dies, and they haven't left a will, their property will be dealt with sensibly and as quickly as possible. That is why we have made these common sense changes to modernise the law and make administering an estate faster and easier.
"A large number of people do die without leaving a will each year, and I would encourage people of all ages to ensure they have properly considered making a will so that, if the worst happens, their own wishes are followed."
The Bill received Royal Assent in May this year.
When making a life, critical illness or IP claim
Despite no longer requesting medical evidence
Subject to certain criteria
Rising to 7.8% in people over 80
‘We could be failing people, when they need us most’