Why Intestate Law is Important in Inheritance Procedure

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. 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. Intestate law outlines in order the hierarchy of the group of people who were close to the deceased and how the property will be distributed to them. 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. Below is how the hierarchy is followed.

The first on the hierarchy is the spouse of the deceased who has the right to get a share of the estate if not all of it. It is important to note that if the deceased had an estate, the spouse is the right person to inherit it. If the deceased did not have any kid, the spouse inherits the whole of the estate with the exclusion of relatives. Intestate law clearly defines that the legitimate spouse is the one who wed with the deceased and has a certificate of marriage. Read more about common marriage 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. 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. 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. It is the responsibility of the probate court to select the guardian who will take care of the children of the deceased.

The third on the intestate hierarchy are parents and siblings of the deceased person. This hierarchy is arrived at if deceased did not leave behind children, spouse or grandchildren. On this level of the hierarchy, parents are given the first priority and if the parents are not around, siblings are then picked to be inheritors.

In case there is no record of the children, spouse, parents, sibling, then distant relatives automatically become the legal inheritors of the deceased’s property. Distant relatives include cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles who may share the property equally among themselves.