Importance of Intestate Laws
Intestate law is applicable when a person dies without leaving behind a will for inheritance of property. Intestacy law oversees and governs the division the property he/she has left behind. 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. 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. During the division of the property, two tools are used to divide the property which includes per stripe and per capita. The tools are especially used when the number of descendants is large. The following hierarchy is clearly elaborated by the 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. It is important to note that if the deceased had an estate, the spouse is the right person to inherit it. 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. It is important to understand that cohabitation partner and the common law marriage does not entitle a spouse to inheritance law. It is possible to find some jurisdictions where common law marriage is legal.
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. Depending on the size of the estate, a spouse is given a certain percentage of the estate and the remaining percentage distributed equally to all the children. It is important to know that deceased adopted children are taken as the biological children. 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.
Parents and siblings of the deceased are third on the intestate hierarchy. This hierarchy is arrived at if deceased did not leave behind children, spouse or grandchildren. Under this bracket, parents are considered first and if there are no parents, automatically the siblings become the 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.