Intestate succession refers to the legal statutes that dictate how a deceased person's Assets and Estate are distributed when they pass away without having a valid Last Will and Testament, or if their will does not cover all of their personal property.
These state specific "laws of intestacy" ensure that in the absence of a will, a deceased person's assets are still distributed in a fair and orderly manner to their Surviving Family, other Heirs or Beneficiaries.
Key points about intestate succession include:
Hierarchy of Heirs: Intestacy laws establish a predetermined order of priority for distributing assets among the deceased person's relatives. Spouses, children, parents, siblings, and other close relatives are typically included in this hierarchy in this order.
Spousal Inheritance: Most intestacy laws prioritize the surviving spouse as the primary heir. The deceased's spouse often receives a significant portion of the estate, and the share may vary depending on whether there are children or other heirs.
Children's Inheritance: If there is no surviving spouse, or if the estate is large enough, the deceased person's children typically become the primary heirs. This Inheritance may be divided equally among the children.
Parents and Siblings: In the absence of a surviving spouse or children, the deceased person's parents and siblings may be entitled to a share of the estate.
Degrees of Kinship: Intestacy laws may differentiate between "half-blood" relatives (those who share only one parent) and "whole-blood" relatives (those who share both parents) in determining inheritance shares.
No Living Relatives: If there are no surviving relatives according to the hierarchy specified by intestacy laws, the estate may Escheat, meaning it becomes the property of the state.
Estate Administration: The process of Administering the Estate according to intestacy laws is overseen by Probate Court. An Administrator is appointed by the court to manage the payback of the deceased's Debts and the distribution of their assets.
It's important to note that intestacy laws vary by state and specific rules for distributing assets will differ based where the deceased lived at the time of their death.
Additionally, intestacy laws only apply to assets that would have been part of the deceased person's estate had they left a will.
To avoid the complications and potential inequalities that can arise under intestacy laws, it's important to work with an Estate Attorney to create a comprehensive will.
If the deceased passed without a will and there are complications during the probate process, it's best to with a Probate Attorney.