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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. The intestacy law is used as a guideline of property distribution of the deceased. 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 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 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. The only time the per capita and the per stripe tools are used is when the property is divided to many people who are entitled to inheritance. The following are some of the hierarchy outlined by 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. In the case where no child was left behind, the spouse is entitled to inherit the whole estate without caring if there are other relatives left behind. Intestate law clearly defines that the legitimate spouse is the one who wed with the deceased and has a certificate of marriage. Read more about common marriage here.

Children follow the spouse on the hierarchy of the intestate law. Estate left behind by the deceased is distributed in equal portion to all the children in case there is no spouse. 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. 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.

The third on the intestate hierarchy are parents and siblings of the deceased person. In case there is no recognized spouse, children or grandchildren, parents, and sibling are considered to be suitable property inheritors. The property is handed over to the deceased’s parents and if there are no existing parents, then the property is equally divided among the siblings.

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.

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