It is important to understand that when a person dies intestate, the intestate law is used to find the appropriate inheritors of the deceased property. Intestacy is defined as the law that defines the rules of distributing the property of a deceased who did not leave a will for his/her property. 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 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 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. Per capita and per stripe are some of the tools that are employed during the division of the property of the deceased to the large numerous relatives. These tools are necessary when the number of people entitled to inheritance is huge. The following hierarchy is clearly elaborated by the 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. 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. 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. It is the responsibility of the probate court to select the guardian who will take care of the children of the deceased.
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.
The third on the intestate hierarchy are distant relatives and this happens only if the deceased do not have an existing spouse, children, siblings or any descendant. Distant relatives include cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles who may share the property equally among themselves.