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Tips for When a Family Member Dies without a Will

It is important to understand that when a person dies intestate, the intestate law is used to find the appropriate inheritors of the deceased property. The intestacy law is used as a guideline of property distribution of the deceased. Intestate is a person who dies before preparing the will that indicates how his/her property should be shared to his/her closest people who are left behind. 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 intestate lists and the people who are entitled to inherit the property and at the same time defines how these people are related to the deceased. 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. If the deceased did not have any kid, the spouse inherits the whole of the estate with the exclusion of relatives. 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 follow the spouse on the hierarchy of the intestate law. In cases where there is no existing spouse, the estate is subdivided equally to all children. The case is different if there is an existing spouse. The spouse is given his/her share and the remaining share is equally subdivided among all the children. It should be noted clearly that if the deceased had only adopted children, the property is equally divided among them because adopted children are taken as biological children. 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.

The third on the intestate hierarchy are parents and siblings of the deceased person. In case there is no recognized spouse, children or grandchildren, parents, and sibling are considered to be suitable property inheritors. The property is handed over to the deceased’s parents and if there are no existing parents, then the property is equally divided among the siblings.

In case there is no record of the children, spouse, parents, sibling, then distant relatives automatically become the legal inheritors of the deceased’s property. Distant relatives include cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles who may share the property equally among themselves.

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