The Beginner’s Guide to

Tips for When a Family Member Dies without a Will

Intestate law is applicable when a person dies without leaving behind a will for inheritance of property. Intestacy law oversees and governs the division the property he/she has left behind. Therefore when someone dies when he/she had not prepared a will of how the property will be divided into his/her closest people, then that person is said to die intestate. Intestate law outlines in order the hierarchy of the group of people who were close to the deceased and how the property will be distributed to them. The relationship between the deceased and the people to inherit the deceased’s property is defined by the intestate law. During the division of the property, two tools are used to divide the property which includes per stripe and per capita. The only time the per capita and the per stripe tools are used is when the property is divided to many people who are entitled to inheritance. Below is how the hierarchy is followed.

Spouse of the deceased is the first priority when the distribution of the property of the deceased is done and he/she is entitled to at least inherit an estate. The first inheritance of a spouse is an estate which was owned by the deceased. When there is no child in question, the estate of the deceased is entirely inherited by the spouse. It is important to understand that cohabitation partner and the common law marriage does not entitle a spouse to inheritance law. There are a few jurisdictions where common law marriage which states that if you stay with your partner for a particular period of time you become spouses.

Children are the second on the intestate hierarchy. The piece of an estate left behind is usually divided equally among the existing children of the deceased if there is no spouse left behind. The case is different if there is an existing spouse. Depending on the size of the estate, a spouse is given a certain percentage of the estate and the remaining percentage distributed equally to all the children. The adopted children are also given equal share because they are considered as the biological children of the deceased. According to the intestate law, children are not supposed to inherit the debt of their deceased parent and therefore the assets inherited by the children cannot be used to settle the debts. In cases where a parent die intestate, the probate court takes the responsibility of choosing the right guardian for the small children.

Thirdly, on the intestate hierarchy are parents and siblings of the deceased. In case there is no recognized spouse, children or grandchildren, parents, and sibling are considered to be suitable property inheritors. On this level of the hierarchy, parents are given the first priority and if the parents are not around, siblings are then picked to be inheritors.

However, if the above people are absent, then distant relatives are considered the right inheritors. Distant relatives include cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles who may share the property equally among themselves.

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