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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 is defined as the law that defines the rules of distributing the property of a deceased who did not leave a will for his/her property. 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. In order to sure that the property of the deceased is fairly shared to a large number of relatives, the per capita tool and the per stripe tools are used in property division. 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. The following are some of the hierarchy outlined by intestate law.

On top of the hierarchy is the spouse who is entitled to inherit an estate that is left behind by the deceased. It is important to note that if the deceased had an estate, the spouse is the right person to inherit it. 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. Read more about common marriage here.

Children follow the spouse on the hierarchy of the intestate law. 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. In case there is a spouse, the rules changes. 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. 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. It is the responsibility of the probate court to select the guardian who will take care of the children of the deceased.

Thirdly, on the intestate hierarchy are parents and siblings of the deceased. If there is no record of children, spouse or grandchildren, the close people who can inherit the property of a deceased are parents and siblings of the deceased. Under this bracket, parents are considered first and if there are no parents, automatically the siblings become the 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.