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Importance of Intestate Laws

Intestate law is applicable when a person dies without leaving behind a will for inheritance of 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. 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. 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. These tools are necessary when the number of people entitled to inheritance is huge. The following are some of the hierarchy outlined by 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. The first inheritance of a spouse is an estate which was owned by the deceased. If the deceased did not have any kid, the spouse inherits the whole of the estate with the exclusion of relatives. Intestate law clearly defines that the legitimate spouse is the one who wed with the deceased and has a certificate of marriage. Read more about common marriage here.

Children are the second on the intestate hierarchy. The piece of an estate left behind is usually divided equally among the existing children of the deceased if there is no spouse left behind. The case is different if there is an existing spouse. 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 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.

The third on the intestate hierarchy are distant relatives and this happens only if the deceased do not have an existing spouse, children, siblings or any descendant. Cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents are some of the distant relatives.

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