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 when someone dies when he/she had not prepared a will of how the property will be divided into his/her closest people, then that person is said to die intestate. 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 hierarchy is followed according to the relationship of the deceased with the people who stand to inherit the property. During the division of the property, two tools are used to divide the property which includes per stripe and per capita. The tools are especially used when the number of descendants is large. 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. When there is no child in question, the estate of the deceased is entirely inherited by the spouse. It is important to understand that cohabitation partner and the common law marriage does not entitle a spouse to inheritance law. 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. 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. 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. Under this bracket, parents are considered first and if there are no parents, automatically the siblings become the inheritors.
However, if the above people are absent, then distant relatives are considered the right inheritors. Cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents are some of the distant relatives.