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Looking On The Bright Side of

Tips for When a Family Member Dies without a Will

When a family member dies without a will, it is important to apply the intestacy laws. Intestacy law oversees and governs the division the property he/she has left behind. Therefore it is correct to say that a person who dies without leaving behind the will of distribution of his/her property the deceased died intestate. Intestate law lists the people who are entitled to property on inheritance of a deceased in case where a will was not drafted by the deceased. The hierarchy is followed according to the relationship of the deceased with the people who stand to inherit the property. Per capita and per stripe are some of the tools that are employed during the division of the property of the deceased to the large numerous relatives. The tools are especially used when the number of descendants is large. The following hierarchy is clearly elaborated by the intestate law.

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. A spouse can get a piece of estate or inherit the whole estate depending on whether the deceased left behind children. In the case where no child was left behind, the spouse is entitled to inherit the whole estate without caring if there are other relatives left behind. It is important to understand that cohabitation partner and the common law marriage does not entitle a spouse to inheritance law. Read more about common marriage here.

Children are the second on the intestate hierarchy. Estate left behind by the deceased is distributed in equal portion to all the children in case there is no spouse. In case there is a spouse, the rules changes. The spouse is given a particular percentage of the estate depending on the size and the remaining is equally shared among the children. It is important to know that deceased adopted children are taken as the biological children. The assets inherited by the children of the deceased can never be used to settle the debts of the deceased because children do not inherit their parent’s debts. In cases where a parent die intestate, the probate court takes the responsibility of choosing the right guardian for the small children.

Parents and siblings of the deceased are third on the intestate hierarchy. This hierarchy is arrived at if deceased did not leave behind children, spouse or grandchildren. 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.

The third on the intestate hierarchy are distant relatives and this happens only if the deceased do not have an existing spouse, children, siblings or any descendant. Cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents are some of the distant relatives.