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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. Intestacy law oversees and governs the division the property he/she has left behind. 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 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. These tools are necessary when the number of people entitled to inheritance is huge. The following hierarchy is clearly elaborated by the intestate law.

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. The first inheritance of a spouse is an estate which was owned by the deceased. When there is no child in question, the estate of the deceased is entirely inherited by the spouse. 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.

The second on the intestate hierarchy are children of the deceased. 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 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. 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.

However, if the above people are absent, then distant relatives are considered the right inheritors. Distant relatives include cousins, grandparents, aunts and uncles who may share the property equally among themselves.

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