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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 law oversees and governs the division the property he/she has left behind. 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 relationship between the deceased and the people to inherit the deceased’s property is defined by the intestate law. 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. The tools are especially used when the number of descendants is large. 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. It is important to note that if the deceased had an estate, the spouse is the right person to inherit it. 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. The spouse is only entitled to the inheritance of the deceased if he/she was legally married to the deceased. More about common law marriage click 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 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. The probate court under intestate law has the right to picking a suitable guardian for the deceased’s small kids.

Parents and siblings of the deceased are third on the intestate hierarchy. 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. Cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents are some of the distant relatives.