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. Therefore in order to fairly divide the left behind property, intestate law is applied which indicates the hierarchy of people who should inherit the property. 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. The following are some of the hierarchy outlined by intestate law.
On top of the hierarchy is the spouse who is entitled to inherit an estate that is left behind by the deceased. 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. Some parts of the world recognize common law marriage as legal.
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. The case is different if there is an existing spouse. 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. 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.
Thirdly, on the intestate hierarchy are parents and siblings of the deceased. This hierarchy is arrived at if deceased did not leave behind children, spouse or grandchildren. Under this bracket, parents are considered first and if there are no parents, automatically the siblings become the inheritors.
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. Cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents are some of the distant relatives.