Importance of Intestate Laws
When a family member dies without a will, it is important to apply the intestacy laws. 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. Intestate is a person who dies before preparing the will that indicates how his/her property should be shared to his/her closest people who are left behind. 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 tools are especially used when the number of descendants is large. 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. A spouse can get a piece of estate or inherit the whole estate depending on whether the deceased left behind children. 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 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 distribution rules changes. The spouse is given his/her share and the remaining share is equally subdivided among all the children. It should be noted clearly that if the deceased had only adopted children, the property is equally divided among them because adopted children are taken as biological children. The assets inherited by the children of the deceased can never be used to settle the debts of the deceased because children do not inherit their parent’s debts. It is the responsibility of the probate court to select the guardian who will take care of the children of the deceased.
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. 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. Here are the list of is made up of distant relatives; uncles, aunts, cousins, and grandparents.