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 law oversees and governs the division the property he/she has left behind. 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. 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. 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 tools are especially used when the number of descendants is large. 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. It is important to note that if the deceased had an estate, the spouse is the right person to inherit it. 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. More about common law marriage click here.
Children are the second on the intestate hierarchy. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.