Intestate law is applicable when a person dies without leaving behind a will for inheritance of property. Intestacy is defined as the law that defines the rules of distributing the property of a deceased who did not leave a will for his/her property. Therefore when someone dies when he/she had not prepared a will of how the property will be divided into his/her closest people, then that person is said to die intestate. Intestate law lists the people who are entitled to property on inheritance of a deceased in case where a will was not drafted by the deceased. The intestate lists and the people who are entitled to inherit the property and at the same time defines how these people are related to the deceased. 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.
On top of the hierarchy is the spouse who is entitled to inherit an estate that is left behind by the deceased. A spouse can get a piece of estate or inherit the whole estate depending on whether the deceased left behind children. If the deceased did not have any kid, the spouse inherits the whole of the estate with the exclusion of relatives. The spouse is only entitled to the inheritance of the deceased if he/she was legally married to the deceased. There are a few jurisdictions where common law marriage which states that if you stay with your partner for a particular period of time you become spouses.
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 rules changes. The spouse is given his/her share and the remaining share is equally subdivided among all the children. The adopted children are also given equal share because they are considered as the biological children of the deceased. Intestate clearly states that children will not inherit the debt left behind by their parent. 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. The property is handed over to the deceased’s parents and if there are no existing parents, then the property is equally divided among the siblings.
The third on the intestate hierarchy are distant relatives and this happens only if the deceased do not have an existing spouse, children, siblings or any descendant. Distant relatives include cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles who may share the property equally among themselves.