Tips for When a Family Member Dies without a Will
It is important to understand that when a person dies intestate, the intestate law is used to find the appropriate inheritors of the deceased 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. 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 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. These tools are necessary when the number of people entitled to inheritance is huge. The following hierarchy is clearly elaborated by the intestate law.
On top of the hierarchy is the spouse who is entitled to inherit an estate that is left behind by the deceased. 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. 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.
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 distribution 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. 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. 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. Here are the list of is made up of distant relatives; uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents.