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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 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. 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 hierarchy is followed according to the relationship of the deceased with the people who stand to inherit the property. 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. A spouse can get a piece of estate or inherit the whole estate depending on whether the deceased left behind children. When there is no child in question, the estate of the deceased is entirely inherited by the spouse. 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.

Children are the second on the intestate hierarchy. The piece of an estate left behind is usually divided equally among the existing children of the deceased if there is no spouse left behind. In case there is a spouse, the 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. It is important to know that deceased adopted children are taken as the biological children. 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.

The third on the intestate hierarchy are parents and siblings of the deceased person. 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.

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.