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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. 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 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 relationship between the deceased and the people to inherit the deceased’s property is defined by the intestate law. 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. These tools are necessary when the number of people entitled to inheritance is huge. The following hierarchy is clearly elaborated by the 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. It is important to note that if the deceased had an estate, the spouse is the right person to inherit it. When there is no child in question, the estate of the deceased is entirely inherited by the spouse. The spouse is only entitled to the inheritance of the deceased if he/she was legally married to the deceased. Read more about common marriage here.

Children are the second on the intestate hierarchy. 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 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.

Thirdly, on the intestate hierarchy are parents and siblings of the deceased. 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.

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.