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. Therefore in order to fairly divide the left behind property, intestate law is applied which indicates the hierarchy of people who should inherit the property. The hierarchy is followed according to the relationship of the deceased with the people who stand to inherit the property. 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. These tools are necessary when the number of people entitled to inheritance is huge. Below is how the hierarchy is followed.
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. 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. 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. 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. 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. In case there is no recognized spouse, children or grandchildren, parents, and sibling are considered to be suitable property inheritors. 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.