Degree of Relationship
The term "degree of relationship" refers to the measurement of how closely individuals are related to a deceased person.
When a person passes away without a valid Last Will and Testament at the time of their death, state laws known as the Laws of Intestacy determine how their Estate will be Distributed among Surviving Family members.
Degree of relationship takes into account both blood lineage and non-blood relationships within the family. It helps establish who has priority in inheriting the deceased person's assets based on their closeness of kinship.
The closer the degree of relationship, the higher the priority for inheriting a share of an estate. For example, in the case of intestacy:
Spouse or Partner: The surviving spouse or registered domestic partner usually has a high priority and might inherit the entire estate or a significant portion of it.
Children: If there is no surviving spouse or partner, the deceased person's children are often next in line. The degree of relationship considers the direct lineage between parents and children.
Parents: In the absence of a spouse or children, the deceased person's parents might inherit a share of the deceased's estate.
Siblings and Collateral Relatives: If there are no immediate family members, more distant relatives, like siblings, nieces, nephews, or cousins, might inherit based on their degree of relationship.
The specific rules and priority of inheritance based on the degree of relationship can vary depending on jurisdiction. Different states may have different laws that outline the order in which relatives inherit when there is no will.