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Importance of Intestate Laws

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 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. 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 only time the per capita and the per stripe tools are used is when the property is divided to many people who are entitled to inheritance. 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. A spouse can get a piece of estate or inherit the whole estate depending on whether the deceased left behind children. 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. It is important to understand that cohabitation partner and the common law marriage does not entitle a spouse to inheritance law. Read more about common marriage here.

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. In case there is a spouse, the distribution 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 should be noted clearly that if the deceased had only adopted children, the property is equally divided among them because adopted children are taken as 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.

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. Here are the list of is made up of distant relatives; uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents.