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. 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. Intestate law outlines in order the hierarchy of the group of people who were close to the deceased and how the property will be distributed to them. 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. When there is no child in question, the estate of the deceased is entirely inherited by the spouse. Intestate law clearly defines that the legitimate spouse is the one who wed with the deceased and has a certificate of marriage. Some parts of the world recognize common law marriage as 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 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.
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.
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.