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 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.
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. 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. Intestate law clearly defines that the legitimate spouse is the one who wed with the deceased and has a certificate of marriage. Some parts of the world recognize common law marriage as legal.
The second on the intestate hierarchy are children of the deceased. 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. 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.
Parents and siblings of the deceased are third on the intestate hierarchy. 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. 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.