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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. The intestacy law is used as a guideline of property distribution of the deceased. 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 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 tools are especially used when the number of descendants is large. The following are some of the hierarchy outlined by intestate law.
The first on the hierarchy is the spouse of the deceased who has the right to get a share of the estate if not all of it. The first inheritance of a spouse is an estate which was owned by the deceased. 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. It is possible to find some jurisdictions where common law marriage is legal.
The second on the intestate hierarchy are children of the deceased. In cases where there is no existing spouse, the estate is subdivided equally to all children. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
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. Cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents are some of the distant relatives.