It is important to understand that when a person dies intestate, the intestate law is used to find the appropriate inheritors of the deceased 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. 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 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. Per capita and per stripe are some of the tools that are employed during the division of the property of the deceased to the large numerous relatives. 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.
On top of the hierarchy is the spouse who is entitled to inherit an estate that is left behind by the deceased. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.
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.