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 it is correct to say that a person who dies without leaving behind the will of distribution of his/her property the deceased died intestate. 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 relationship between the deceased and the people to inherit the deceased’s property is defined by the intestate law. 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.
On top of the hierarchy is the spouse who is entitled to inherit an estate that is left behind by the deceased. 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. Intestate law clearly defines that the legitimate spouse is the one who wed with the deceased and has a certificate of marriage. More about common law marriage click 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. The spouse is given his/her share and the remaining share is equally subdivided among all the children. It is important to know that deceased adopted children are taken as the biological children. Intestate clearly states that children will not inherit the debt left behind by their parent. It is the responsibility of the probate court to select the guardian who will take care of the children of the deceased.
Parents and siblings of the deceased are third on the intestate hierarchy. This hierarchy is arrived at if deceased did not leave behind children, spouse or grandchildren. 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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