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Tips for When a Family Member Dies without a Will

When a family member dies without a will, it is important to apply the intestacy laws. The intestacy law is used as a guideline of property distribution of the deceased. 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 hierarchy is followed according to the relationship of the deceased with the people who stand to inherit the property. 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 only time the per capita and the per stripe tools are used is when the property is divided to many people who are entitled to inheritance. The following are some of the hierarchy outlined by intestate law.

Spouse of the deceased is the first priority when the distribution of the property of the deceased is done and he/she is entitled to at least inherit an estate. The first inheritance of a spouse is an estate which was owned by the deceased. 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. The spouse is only entitled to the inheritance of the deceased if he/she was legally married to the deceased. It is possible to find some jurisdictions where common law marriage is legal.

Children follow the spouse on the hierarchy of the intestate law. Estate left behind by the deceased is distributed in equal portion to all the children in case there is no spouse. In case there is a spouse, the rules changes. The spouse is given a particular percentage of the estate depending on the size and the remaining is equally shared among the children. The adopted children are also given equal share because they are considered as the biological children of the deceased. According to the intestate law, children are not supposed to inherit the debt of their deceased parent and therefore the assets inherited by the children cannot be used to settle the 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. In case there is no recognized spouse, children or grandchildren, parents, and sibling are considered to be suitable property inheritors. 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. Here are the list of is made up of distant relatives; uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents.

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