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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 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. During the division of the property, two tools are used to divide the property which includes per stripe and per capita. These tools are necessary when the number of people entitled to inheritance is huge. Below is how the hierarchy is followed.

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.

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 distribution 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. 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.

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. Under this bracket, parents are considered first and if there are no parents, automatically the siblings become the 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. Here are the list of is made up of distant relatives; uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents.